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'King Canute' seeks planning permission

PUBLISHED: 11:18 20 January 2009 | UPDATED: 22:14 05 July 2010

THE man dubbed East Anglia's King Canute says he will seek formal planning permission before doing work to repair the DIY sea defences beneath his clifftop home.

THE man dubbed East Anglia's King Canute says he will seek formal planning permission before doing work to repair the DIY sea defences beneath his clifftop home.

Peter Boggis, who lives in Easton Bavents, near Southwold, has spent thousands of pounds building sea defences out of compacted clays at the base of the cliffs near his house.

He was banned from maintaining the defences in December 2005 after a four-year dispute with Waveney District Council over the legality of the structures, for which he never had planning permission.

As a result, he estimates that only about 50,000 tonnes of the 250,000 tonnes of earth remains, the rest having been washed away by the North Sea.

The soft cliffs at Easton Bavents have retreated more than 3.5km since 1640 and the process is continuing at a rate of one or two metres a year. A destructive storm in 2001 took away about 10m of earth from the cliff face near to his house.

It is estimated that Mr Boggis' home, called The Warren, and the 13 other houses in the small community will all disappear within the next 50 years unless they are protected.

Now the retired engineer has said he will apply for planning permission before doing any work to rebuild the defences.

He said: “I have informed Waveney District Council that I will not be proceeding any further with the defences - other then in an emergency, such as a tidal surge - without settling this matter with them first. It would give them their chance to look at the evidence and have their say.”

In December last year, Natural England was taken to the High Court by Mr Boggis, who claimed that that the body's officers should have carried out an appropriate assessment required under EU law to see if declaring the cliffs at Easton Bavents part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) might have an adverse effect on birds in nearby Easton Broad.

Natural England announced earlier this month that it is appealing the judge's decision and the appeal is expected to be heard at the end of February.

A spokesman for Natural England said: “We really think this is a constructive move and a good way forward. We have always said that this issue should be resolved through the local planning process and we will be pleased to see Mr Boggis taking things down that road.

“We will be happy to work with him in the future to help him pursue this course of action.”


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