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Lord to see threatened Southwold coast

PUBLISHED: 09:06 28 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:38 05 July 2010

VILLAGERS fighting to protect their homes and land from flooding in north Suffolk are preparing for a visit from one of the country's leading environmental figures.

VILLAGERS fighting to protect their homes and land from flooding in north Suffolk are preparing for a visit from one of the country's leading environmental figures.

Environment Agency chairman Lord Chris Smith will meet flood defence campaigners in Southwold today as part of a visit to see areas of Suffolk's threatened coastline.

The Environment Agency (EA) plans to stop maintaining the flood walls around the Blyth Estuary, near Southwold, over the next 20 years because the work would be financially unsustainable.

Lord Smith will meet members of the Blyth Estuary Group and chairman Sue Allen said that the visit has come after years of pressure from communities along the Suffolk coast.

She said: “We will be putting forward our views and our aims regarding the river, the harbour and the shoreline management plan. We're all really pleased that he is coming to listen to the local community.

“It's very exciting and all very positive - coming to visit will help him to understand the area and the issues. We want him to go back to London with lots of useful ideas.”

After meeting local flood defence protestors and councillors, Lord Smith will be flown in a helicopter over Southwold and the Blyth Estuary to see the river system and flood defences from the air.

The Blyth Estuary Group, which is made up of local councillors, residents and landowners, has been campaigning against the

Environment Agency's plans for managed retreat for the last two years and volunteers have worked together to repair the main breaches in the flood walls around the estuary.

Mrs Allen said: “I've been told that the work the group has done is going to become part of a blueprint for other rivers as we've worked closely with the Environment Agency and Natural England to try to help ourselves.”

Lord Smith will also meet members of the Suffolk Coast Against Retreat (SCAR) group in Felixstowe and visit East Lane at nearby Bawdsey, where villagers sold off local farmland for development to raise money for sea defences to protect their homes.

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