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Residents protest over flood plans

PUBLISHED: 14:29 02 February 2008 | UPDATED: 19:37 05 July 2010

VILLAGERS in a picturesque seaside village are to send an SOS to the Environment Agency in a public protest at the withdrawal of funding for river defences.

VILLAGERS in a picturesque seaside village are to send an SOS to the Environment Agency in a public protest at the withdrawal of funding for river defences.

Residents in Walberswick will be lining up for a giant human SOS on the beach to voice their anger at the agency's decision to no longer maintain flood protection along the Blyth Estuary.

It claims the costs of repairing the defences are greater than the benefits, although the move will affect large areas of Walberswick, Southwold and Reydon.

Villagers - together with anyone “who loves the place and want to help protect it” - will be holding the public protest on February 17.

Protest spokesperson Karen Lee said: “It feels like the Environment Agency, and Defra, is abandoning us to the waves and we're not going to stand for it.

“News about breaches in the sea wall or news about the River Blyth flooding always seems to miss the bigger picture - the reality for us sitting here in Walberswick is that we're under threat from all sides - the river, the sea and the estuary between us and Dunwich that the Environment Agency wants to create.

“Anyone who's been here knows the magic of the place. The village has a wonderful, vibrant history and as a community we're not going to stand by and see its future washed away. We are a village under threat and we're crying out for help.”

Mike Solloway, Walberswick resident said: “This is about all of our futures. I plan to be playing on the beach with my grandchildren in 20 years time. The Environment Agency seems to be planning on taking that away from me.

“We think it's time for the public to make a stand. It's time for a public voice of protest to be heard.

“To say to the Environment Agency that what they are planning is not okay. It's not okay to give up on the shingle ridge. It is not okay to give up on Tinkers Marsh flood banks and see Southwold harbour disappear in a matter of years.

“It is not okay to let the beach gradually disappear. It's not okay to give up and let the sea in all around us. We're sending to the Environment Agency an SOS and we're going to keep sending it until they see sense.”

Roger Felton, another villager, said: “Everyone should stop believing it's inevitable and there's nothing we can do. There is nothing inevitable about it.

“The only thing that's inevitable is that if we lose the funding for sea and river defences, we lose the beach and if we lose the beach, we lose the soul of the village.”

The Environment Agency has said maintaining the defences on the Blyth estuary cannot be justified when there are more urgent projects elsewhere in the country.

It is currently in a consultation period of a draft strategy for the maintenance of flood defences within the Blyth Estuary which ends on February 29.

Anyone wishing to get involved in the Walberswick campaign should visit www.walberswicksos.co.uk.

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