Boost for plans to combat A12 flooding at Blythburgh

PLANS to stop flooding at a problem spot on the A12 between Lowestoft and Ipswich have been boosted by a Government minister.

Suffolk County Council is looking to alleviate flooding on the main road at Blythburgh, where the road meets the River Blyth, and is proposing to install a sluice to manage tidal flow in the area.

The road is liable to flooding during heavy rainfall and fears were heightened when the Environment Agency announced it could not continue to maintain defences along the Blyth estuary indefinitely.

Major delays on the road cause huge inconvenience for people and businesses in the area, as well as damaging the local economy.

The county council secured a �1.8m grant to deal with the problem and had considered raising the road but has now opted to 'develop the option' of installing a sluice.

The authority said it had responded to requests from the local community to consideer this option – an idea which was supported by Environment Minister Richard Benyon at a meeting last week.

Guy McGregor, the council's cabinet member responsible for transport, and Suffolk Coastal MP, Dr Therese Coffey, went through the proposals with Mr Benyon.

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The plans have been developed jointly by the county council, Environment Agency and Natural England and have been designed to have minimum impact on the surrounding environmental areas.

Mr McGregor said the Government minister recognised the proposal would do much more than reduce flooding on the A12, and would benefit the entire Blyth estuary and Southwold Harbour where improvements and repair work is planned.

'Flooding at Blythburgh has been an issue for sometime, most notably in November 2007 when the road was closed for two days,' he said.

'Following this, we successfully secured �1.8m of funding from the Department of Transport to put in place an effective solution to this problem.

'The sluice option should reduce the risk of flooding on this important road, as well as complementing the redevelopment work planned for Southwold Harbour and plans by the community to upgrade local flood defences.

'I would like to recognise the efforts of Therese Coffey MP in supporting our proposals and enabling them to be heard at the highest level.'

He added: 'With ministerial support for our approach, we will continue to work in close collaboration with the Environment Agency, Natural England and the local community to design a suitable structure and ensure the work is carried out carefully and effectively.'

Detailed design work on the sluice will begin now, with construction expected to start before the end of 2012.

Dr Coffey welcomed the A12 sluice plan and added: 'This shows the importance of securing Richard Benyon's visit to the Suffolk coast in September, as he was already familiar with the challenges'.