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Talks on coastal flooding risk

PUBLISHED: 14:09 30 June 2008 | UPDATED: 20:45 05 July 2010

CLIMATE change and the vulnerability of the coast to a rise in sea level will be the greatest challenges facing Suffolk's landscape over the next 20 years, it has been warned.

CLIMATE change and the vulnerability of the coast to a rise in sea level will be the greatest challenges facing Suffolk's landscape over the next 20 years, it has been warned.

In a document published on Monday environment chiefs behind the 150 square mile Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) have outlined their vision of the future.

They warn that coastal management and flood defence in the face of a predicted sea level rise are the most important issues currently troubling local communities.

The plan also calls for more studies to understand the implications of climate change for the landscape and wildlife of Suffolk's coast and the drawing up of integrated proposals for “sustainable” management of the shoreline.

Other issues addressed include land use, possible water shortages, access and the need to strike a balance between accommodating visitors and protecting the landscape and tranquillity they come to experience.

David Wood, chairman of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Partnership, an alliance of 26 organisations with influence over the AONB, states in a forward to the new management plan: “There is a growing weight of scientific opinion supporting the view that global climate change, influenced by the human use of energy and raw materials, is occurring.

“Any significant change is likely to present a threat to the Suffolk Coast and Heaths and there is a pressing need to understand its implications.

“Critical issues in the short to medium term are likely to relate to water (flood risk and sustainable use of resources), farming and biodiversity.

“The Suffolk coast is particularly vulnerable to the threat of sea level rise, and coastal management and flood defence are the most important issues currently facing communities living in the AONB. “Integrated Coastal Zone Management is a local priority and Suffolk Coast and Heaths Partnership could play an important role in helping the regional and countywide initiatives that are currently emerging.”

At the heart of the new plan, launched at the Thorpeness Country Club, is a 20-year vision that sets out in detail the aims for the conservation of the local landscape.

The proposals bring together the work of a 26-member partnership that includes local authorities, Natural England, conservation organisations, community groups and businesses.

Mr Wood said virtually all the Suffolk Coast and Heaths was privately owned so it was vital that the partnership had the support of landowners if it was to achieve its goals.

Fortunately, a considerable part of the AONB was owned by organisations such as the RSPB, National Trust, Natural England, Forestry Commission and Suffolk Wildlife Trust, he said.

“These organisations share our aspirations for the long-term conservation of the area and are key members of the partnership of organisations that have agreed to implement the Management Plan,” he said. “To have the best chance of success, we need the support of a wide range of organisations and individuals, including the local community and businesses,” he added.

Bill Parker, acting manager of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Unit, which oversees the health of the area, said: “It is vital that we bring in more support from the business community and their employees to what we are doing.”

It was also announced that Southwold brewer Adnams will be increasing its support of conservation efforts within the AONB.

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