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Euro help to save land

PUBLISHED: 15:15 02 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:00 05 July 2010

EUROPEAN funding could soon be available to protect land and homes in north Suffolk which are to be abandoned to the sea.

East of England MEP Geoffrey van Orden, met flooding and erosion experts from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) in a bid to secure funding to protect the Blyth estuary.

EUROPEAN funding could soon be available to protect land and homes in north Suffolk which are to be abandoned to the sea.

East of England MEP Geoffrey van Orden, met flooding and erosion experts from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) in a bid to secure funding to protect the Blyth estuary.

Mr van Orden, who took a boat trip around the estuary in February to see breaches in the walls for himself, said that the meeting in Cambridge was a success and he is now working towards putting in a formal bid for regional development funding.

He said: "We have now got to identify a partner in order to meet the criteria to bid for money. There are a lot of interested parties, from France and the Netherlands as well as the UK.

"Those countries are affected by similar problems and have similar concerns. I'm looking for practical assistance - we have been battling for a long time, now we want to see something happening. I am determined to make some progress."

The Environment Agency plans to stop maintaining defences around the estuary in the next 20 years, which will leave thousands of acres of farmland, about 40 homes and the A12 Lowestoft to Ipswich road at increased risk of flooding.

The agency says it would cost millions of pounds to go on repairing the walls and that the work will be unsustainable as a result of climate change, rising sea levels and the increased frequency of tidal surges.

The campaign to maintain flood defences around the Blyth estuary stepped up a gear earlier this week when hundreds of protestors formed a human chain along Southwold promenade, calling on prime minister Gordon Brown to take their concerns seriously.

Mr van Orden, who was at the Southwold protest on Wednesday, said: "A lot of people are very concerned about this issue, and quite rightly. We have got to get the government to take a real interest in this."

He is going to meet with flood defence experts from Holland and other low-lying parts of Europe later in the summer to find out more about the strategies and technologies they use to protect coastal towns and villages which are threatened by the sea.


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