Fresh blow for flood defences campaign

CAMPAIGNERS battling to save flood defences protecting land around a north Suffolk estuary were dealt a fresh blow as proposals to stop maintaining the mud banks were given the green light.

CAMPAIGNERS battling to save flood defences protecting land around a north Suffolk estuary were dealt a fresh blow as proposals to stop maintaining the mud banks were given the green light.

The Environment Agency announced in September 2007 that it could no longer justify large-scale investment to repair the defences around the Blyth Estuary, near Southwold, in the face of rising sea levels.

It proposed a strategy of managed retreat, which would see the existing walls - protecting land around Walberswick, Southwold, Reydon and Blythburgh - maintained for a maximum of 20 years but with some sections allowed to breach much sooner.

Last Friday, the Environment Agency's (EA) Eastern Regional Flood Defence Committee agreed to send the final draft of the Blyth strategy to the agency's National Review Group, which will complete the internal review process before any scheme is finally approved.


You may also want to watch:


The Blyth Estuary Group, who have been campaigning against the proposals ever since they were first put forward, had hoped that a new independent report which contradicts the science used by the EA to draw up the Blyth strategy would help their cause.

The study, which has just been completed, showed that sediment was building up within the estuary at a rate likely to outpace sea level rise, making it would be possible to maintain the mud banks.

Most Read

Committee member John Goodwin warned at last week's meeting in Ipswich that there was an 'unseemly haste' in moving the draft strategy on to the next stage when the sedimentation study was still being assessed.

Tony Coe, Regional Flood Defence Committee chairman, said at the meeting that it was imperative that the strategy be passed on to the National Review Group (NRG). He said: 'If we do not, then it may be perceived that there is some split in the views of the Environment Agency and the bodies working together.

'The longer we leave sending it to the NRG then the longer we leave the estuary at a greater risk of serious deterioration. If we have the misfortune to have an inappropriate surge we could suffer serious damage in the short term.'

Andrew Blois, landowner and Blyth Estuary Group member, said: 'It is very disappointing in light of the sediment report that they didn't put this decision off to another meeting. But we're not giving up yet.'

Richard Steward, Blyth Estuary Group member, said: 'We are very disappointed that they are passing this through to the NRG, a strategy which has been shown to be scientifically baseless. We think this will be rubber stamped and lead to the eventual abandonment of the Blyth Estuary.'

Guy McGregor, county councillor and chairman of the Blyth Strategy Group, said: 'I'm obviously disappointed, but we're going to keep on fighting. These defences have been protecting the land for 300 years and there is still work going on, particularly work at Southwold harbour, which has not been taken into account.'

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus