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Coastal campaigner heads to the Supreme Court

PUBLISHED: 07:12 18 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:18 06 July 2010

Peter Boggis

Peter Boggis

Emily Dennis

A modern-day King Canute who has been trying to hold back the tide to save his cliff-top home from destruction is taking his battle to the Supreme Court.

A modern-day King Canute who has been trying to hold back the tide to save his cliff-top home from destruction is taking his battle to the Supreme Court.

Peter Boggis is bidding to appeal a legal ruling made against him last month, where he was told he needed planning permission for his home-made sea defences on the beach at Easton Bavents, near Southwold.

Since 2002, the 78-year-old retired engineer has built more than 1km of his own coastal defences in front of the eroding cliffs, using 250,000 tonnes of compacted clay soil.

For the past three years he has been fighting Natural England's proposals to include the fossil-rich cliffs in a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

In December last year, Mr Boggis took Natural England to the High Court, claiming that the SSSI had been imposed without the correct wildlife assessment being carried out, and judge Mr Justice Blair found in his favour.

Natural England appealed against the decision and in a judgment last month the Court of Appeal said that the only route left open to Mr Boggis was to apply for planning permission for his defences.

But yesterday solicitors Parkinson Wright, who are acting for Mr Boggis and his organisation Easton Bavents Conservation, said they had applied to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal on October 20.

Mr Boggis, whose house sits 302ft (92m) from the edge of the cliff, said: “I am determined to do everything in my power to protect the little village my family established a hundred years ago from being destroyed without compensation as I believed was the intention of English Nature to achieve by including the beach our sea defence is on in the SSSI to prevent its maintenance and encourage Waveney District Council to take enforcement action.

“We welcome the co-operation we have recently had with Natural England in developing a compromise form of sea defence building on our previous experience, but believe that if the state plans for the destruction of a village and puts enormous obstacles in the way of helping the villagers themselves to prevent it, it has to make provision for fair compensation and for preventing its plans from damaging very important nature conservation sites.”

Shaun Thomas, Natural England's East of England regional director, said: “Mr Boggis has no justification for implying that “the state has plans for the destruction of a village”. The SSSI notification does not constitute a plan to allow the cliffs at Easton Bavents to erode and does not constitute a plan to prevent communities from defending themselves against destruction by the sea, (a fact that was confirmed in the Court of Appeal).

“We fully understand that Mr Boggis is concerned to protect his home and to control the effects of coastal erosion that have claimed a number of houses in the region in recent decades, but the route to resolve the problem he faces is the well-established planning system. Repeated attempts to reverse the SSSI conservation designation in court are misguided - whether the area is a declared a SSSI or not, Mr Boggis needs planning permission from the district council if he wishes to build sea defences, and again, we would encourage Mr Boggis to go down this route.”

Peter Boggis's campaign to save his home

2002

Peter Boggis starts bringing in thousands of tonnes of clay to build his own soft sea defences in front of his home.

2005

December: Cliffs at Easton Bavents named part of the reinstated SSSI. The site needed to be redesignated in 2006 because it had eroded beyond the original lines on the map and some key parts of the site were no longer protected.

2008

December 5: High Court finds that Natural England's officers should have carried out an appropriate assessment before declaring Easton Broad part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

2009

January 9: Natural England launches appeal against High Court's decision.

October 20: Court of Appeal finds in favour of Natural England.

November 17: Solicitors acting for Peter Boggis and his organisation Easton Bavents Conservation have applied to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal.


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