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Special conference all set for Southwold

PUBLISHED: 17:17 13 June 2008 | UPDATED: 20:37 05 July 2010

FLOODING and erosion in local estuaries and on the coast is set to be discussed at a special conference tomorrow (June 14).

Around 100 local representatives who are concerned about this topical issue are set to descend on Southwold as the conference aims to help East Suffolk's local communities play a more active part in the future management of coastal protection.

FLOODING and erosion in local estuaries and on the coast is set to be discussed at a special conference tomorrow (June 14).

Around 100 local representatives who are concerned about this topical issue are set to descend on Southwold as the conference aims to help East Suffolk's local communities play a more active part in the future management of coastal protection.

With measures to prevent estuary flooding, and to help improve the dialogue with government on how to manage and fund defences, the conference has been sponsored by Suffolk County Council, as they work in partnership with Suffolk Coastal and Waveney Councils to highlight the dangers facing the Blyth Estuary from the recent Environment Agency (EA) proposals.

“The day will look at the issues raised by the proposals for the Blyth and the potential regional and national implications of the EA's plans,” County Councillor Guy McGregor, Portfolio Holder for Roads and Transport said. “In the months since these proposals were made public it has become clear that there are positive steps that can be taken and the focus will be on the lessons that have been learnt since then and the practical steps we can all take together.

Cllr McGregor will officially open the conference at 10am tomorrow, with town and parish councillors from around East Suffolk taking their place alongside councillors from the three councils, John Gummer MP, and representatives of many organisations.

“Coastal flooding and erosion and the provision of adequate defences are major issues for East Suffolk and its communities, especially after the EA's 'no active intervention' proposals for the Blyth which could be repeated in the Alde/Ore, Deben and Orwell estuaries, or indeed on sections of the open coast,” Cllr Andy Smith, Suffolk Coastal's Deputy Leader, said.

“We will also hear from North Norfolk Council how their experience, like ours on the Blyth, has highlighted the failure of the current assessment system to take proper account of the real costs and benefits of proposals on local areas.”

The conference takes place on the back of a “very encouraging meeting” with Barbara Follett, the Minister for the Eastern Region, last week.

“This conference aims to help give local communities and interested organisations a helping hand in developing their role, and in working with local and national government to develop future plans for managing the coast which properly recognise the importance of coastal communities, economy and culture” added Cllr Smith.

The day will include three guest speakers, and five workshop sessions which will look at the issues relating to the three East Suffolk estuaries, as well as the coastal areas.

“We want to see how local communities have and can get involved in decision-making and perhaps even policy-making, looking at how much they can help implement plans for the future,” Cllr Simon Tobin, Waveney's Portfolio Holder for Customer Access,” said.

“Our speakers will explain what has been done around the Blyth, and how its local communities, landowners and Natural England have united to carry out repair work to the existing defences, and how this approach can be developed elsewhere” added Cllr Tobin.

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