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Court battle over sea defences

PUBLISHED: 14:27 17 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:49 05 July 2010

An East Anglian homeowner has today taken his battle to defend his home against the sea to the High Court in London.

Retired engineer Peter Boggis wants permission to continue maintaining the sea defences in front of cliff-top homes at Easton Bavents, near Southwold.

An East Anglian homeowner has today taken his battle to defend his home against the sea to the High Court in London.

Retired engineer Peter Boggis wants permission to continue maintaining the sea defences in front of cliff-top homes at Easton Bavents, near Southwold.

However, Natural England, previously known as English Nature, wants fossil-bearing cliffs on the north Suffolk coast to be allowed to wear away, exposing stratas of soil and rock for study.

The result will be that the homes of local residents on the cliffs will eventually fall into the North Sea.

Mr Boggis, built his own coastal DIY defences to prevent erosion and save his home and those of his neighbours.

But Natural England declared the area a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 2006, with the intention of preventing him from maintaining his sea defence barrier.

Today Mr Boggis, aged 77, who lives at The Warren, Easton Bavents, near Southwold, went to the High Court in London to argue that Natural England is acting beyond its powers and has no legal right to stop him saving his home.

Mr Boggis says his case could have wide implications and is "extremely critical for all people living on the coast".

Opening the two-day hearing, Gregory Jones, appearing for Mr Boggis, told Mr Justice Blair the purpose of SSSIs was normally to "conserve or preserve'' flora, fauna or geological features.

But Natural England wanted to let the sea erode the Easton Bavents cliffs in order to expose the sediment and fossils so that they could be studied, he said.

Mr Jones argued that Natural England had no power to extend the scope of SSSIs "in order to study the destruction of the cliffs''.

Mr Boggis's so-called "soft sea defences'' consist of 250,000 tonnes of compacted clay soils he had specially delivered.

The controversial barrier constantly has to be renewed as the sea washes it away.

The case continues.

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