Flood defence campaigners to fight on

FLOOD defence campaigners trying to protect thousands of acres of land in north Suffolk have vowed to carry on fighting this year for permission to repair damaged banks.

FLOOD defence campaigners trying to protect thousands of acres of land in north Suffolk have vowed to carry on fighting this year for permission to repair damaged banks.

The Blyth Estuary Group has been battling since early 2006 to repair flood walls in the estuary, near Southwold, after the Environment Agency announced that it plans to stop maintaining them over the next 20 years because the project is not be financially viable.

As the group enters another year of campaigning against the proposals of managed retreat, it is hoped that planning permission will be granted in 2009 to allow for the breaches in the mud walls to be repaired.

Landowner and group member Andrew Blois said: 'We are currently trying to plough through the relevant planning issues, which is quite a difficult and expensive undertaking.


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'However the scheme is progressing - we need to get the final bits of paper work in place and then hopefully we will be able to implement our defence scheme on an estuary wide basis and we'll be free to protect the estuary properly for the future.'

The flood protect thousands of acres of land and about 20 homes in Blythburgh, Southwold, Walberswick and Reydon from flooding, as well as the A12 Ipswich to Lowestoft road.

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Although the mud defences were originally built about 300 years ago, the task of managing the estuary has since become the duty of the Environment Agency.

Now the campaigners must apply for planning permission from Waveney District Council before they can take heavy machinery on to the marshes to rebuild the walls.

Mr Blois, who owns hundreds of acres of grazing marsh and farmland in Walberswick, said: 'It is a shame things take so long, but that is the process we are having to go through.

'The routes on to the marshes are all farm tracks, which we want permission to resurface temporarily so we can use them for lorry access while the work is going on. After that they will all go back to agricultural use.

'The cost of getting the work done is not a big problem - we have got the money and a lot of people willing to help out. Hopefully we will soon be able to move things forward.'

He said that hundreds of sandbags have already been donated to allow work to plug a breach in the bank of the River Blyth in Blythburgh to be carried out within the next couple of months.

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