�4m plans to repair Southwold harbour wall revealed

AMBITIOUS proposals to repair Southwold's crumbling harbour wall and improve facilities to boost the port's fishing industry have been revealed.

Detailed plans for a �4m project to strengthen the harbour's north dock include a 278m stretch of vertical steel piling in front of the existing wall, which has been crumbling into the sea for some time.

As well as a strengthened wall to keep the harbour navigable and support the RNLI lifeboat station, Waveney District Council and the prospective Southwold Harbour Lands Trust have submitted a bid for just over �1.2m from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) so that the project can also include improved facilities for fishermen with better moorings, refrigeration areas, water and electricity hook ups, a crane and a refuelling area.

A business case drawn up alongside the plans, said the existing harbour wall is expected to fail completely within the next five years.

It said: 'Major reconstruction work is urgently required to prevent major failure. Investment in the wall will ensure that the fishing industry will be able to continue to operate within Southwold.

'This ultimately safeguards against the risk of potential unemployment of the entire fishing fleet. This is itself of a major financial benefit to the economy both within the harbour and the local community.'

The long-awaited proposal comes after more than six years of work to get control of the harbour undertaking handed back to the people of Southwold and the plans have been drawn up following public consultation earlier this year.

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The council is expected to find out next week if its application for EFF funding, backed by Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey and Waveney MP Peter Aldous, has been successful.

Southwold mayor Sue Allen said: 'The scheme is brilliant, and it's very comprehensive.'

'We've been working towards this since 2003. The trustees and officers at Waveney have spent a long time working on this plan, so now we've all just got to cross our fingers and hope that we get the EFF money.'

The full plans, which have been submitted to the Marine Managament Organisation for consideration, can be viewed at Lowestoft Town Hall in the High Street.

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