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Bid for EU flood zone funding

PUBLISHED: 11:08 03 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:41 05 July 2010

A bid to secure European funding to protect homes and land around a north Suffolk estuary has attracted the support of decision-makers in the flood risk zone.

A bid to secure European funding to protect homes and land around a north Suffolk estuary has attracted the support of decision-makers in the flood risk zone.

East of England MEP Geoffrey van Orden has been looking into the possibility of applying for European Union money to help repair flood defences around the Blyth estuary, near Southwold, and now local councils have agreed to help him bid for the cash.

The Environment Agency plans to stop maintaining defences around the estuary over the next 20 years because protecting them would not be financially viable - leaving thousands of acres of farmland, about 20 homes and the A12 Lowestoft/Ipswich road at increased risk of flooding

Now Waveney District Council and Suffolk County Council have agreed to help Mr van Orden put in a formal bid for Interreg funding, which is offered to projects which combine knowledge and skills from British and European partners.

A spokesman for the MEP said: “Mr van Orden would like to see a council taking the lead to bid for a project and his written to councils to this effect. We are still in touch with the Blyth Estuary Group and are researching more options.”

Though the Environment Agency does not have any government funding available to maintain and repair the estuary's flood walls, it will join other partners in bidding for the European funding in the hope of protecting as much of the coastal area, which includes Southwold's historic harbour, as possible.

A meeting between the councils and the Environment Agency took place late in October to discuss how European funding, if it is granted, could play a part in the issue of coastal flooding, including the problems in the Blyth estuary.

A Waveney District Council spokesman said that as well as funding, the on-going discussions will look at the use of planning along the coast to buy time for threatened communities and address land management.

Mr van Orden took a boat trip round the estuary in February this year to see the breaches in the defences for himself and will be meeting flood experts from low-lying parts of Europe, including Holland, later this month to find out about the techniques and strategies they use to protect coastal areas which are threatened by the sea.

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