Search

Landowner's vow to protect land

PUBLISHED: 13:05 15 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:48 05 July 2010

A YEAR after a tidal surge breached flood defences around a north Suffolk estuary, a landowner has vowed to work with coastal campaigners to protect the land he loves.

A YEAR after a tidal surge breached flood defences around a north Suffolk estuary, a landowner has vowed to work with coastal campaigners to protect the land he loves.

Andrew Blois, who owns hundreds of acres of grazing, marsh and farm land in Walberswick, next to the Blyth Estuary, has been working for the last year to repair some of the flood walls which were damaged in last November's storm surge.

“These defences were built by my family 300 years ago. I'm not going to be the Blois who gives up on them,” he said.

The surge increased sea levels by nearly 9ft on November 9 last year, damaging property at the mouth of Southwold harbour, washing away a footpath linking the resort to Walberswick and closing the A12 trunk road for most of the day.

The freshwater habitat at the Hen Reedbed in Reydon was contaminated by saltwater and the Dingle Marshes wildlife reserve between Walberswick and Dunwich - a site of European importance - was also deep under water.

For the last year, Mr Blois has used his own resources and money to help plug some of the breaches in the defences around Tinker's Marsh and he is now confident that the repaired walls will last for at least the next 50 years.

He said: “We're happy to maintain the walls ourselves as we have always done, and there are plenty of people willing to help with it. It's like a house with a broken roof - there are a couple of cracked tiles and the gutters don't really work, but it's all fixable.”

More than 2,000 sandbags and several tonnes of clay have been moved around his land by heavy machinery and boats, plugging gaps in the earth walls which protect Walberswick from flooding.

He is determined to protect his land and get planning permission to repair and maintain the flood walls himself.

The Environment Agency (EA) announced two years ago that it plans to implement a strategy of managed retreat in the estuary because the flood walls are not financially viable, but since the storm surge thousands of pounds has been spent repairing some of the more economically-viable stretches of wall.

EA consultant David Collins said that the banks protecting Reydon, on the north bank of the estuary, have now been repaired and £160,000 has been spent bolstering the Palmer's Lane bridge.

He said: “The concern was that if one of those banks goes, there is such a huge amount of water going in and out of that marsh that it could easily double the amount of water flowing out through Southwold harbour.

“Those walls will now be maintained for another five years and it will withstand the type of tidal surge which is predicted to happen about once every ten years.”

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Lowestoft Journal

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists