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The fight goes on vow battling villagers

PUBLISHED: 10:41 06 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:13 05 July 2010

VILLAGERS battling to protect their land and homes from flooding have vowed to carry on fighting plans to abandon defences around a north Suffolk estuary.

VILLAGERS battling to protect their land and homes from flooding have vowed to carry on fighting plans to abandon defences around a north Suffolk estuary.

The Environment Agency (EA) has confirmed that it intends to press ahead with its policy of “managed retreat” around the Blyth Estuary, despite months of public protest against the proposals.

Thousands of acres of farmland and about 20 homes could be lost to the sea if campaigners do not manage to persuade the EA to protect flood walls which protect land around Blythburgh, Walberswick, Southwold and Reydon.

Emily Whalley, who lives on Ferry Road which runs along Southwold Harbour, said: “This is absolutely awful news, it is devastating. I can hardly take it in. This will ring the death knell for our homes, I really don't know what we do now.

“We have dunes in front of our house but water will creep up the back - it will have awful consequences and devalue our properties.”

But she said that local campaigners will not just stand back and watch the flood walls deteriorate. “The Blyth Estuary Group has been maintaining the flood banks with sandbags and I'm sure that will continue, although it will be difficult without help from the Environment Agency.

“We'll just have to keep fighting, even if they have made a decision - we won't take this announcement as final. We still have to try to make a difference,” she said.

The EA announced last year that it could not afford the £35m needed to maintain river defences on the Blyth for more than five years, and that flood walls around Southwold Harbour could only be protected for another two decades.

Walberswick parish councillor and member of the Walberswick SOS campaign group David Webb said: “We are all bitterly disappointed with the announcement, but on the other hand we're not that surprised - the writing has been on the wall for some time.

“We are not going to stop campaigning for the sea walls to be protected; we will keep going because we cannot let the defences be abandoned. Valuable marsh land, farm land and nature habitats would be flooded.”

Peter Osgood, a member of the Ferry Road campaign group, said: “I'm not surprised by the decision, but it is a negative response. Of course we are all going to continue to fight and try to hold the line. We will do all we can to repair and safeguard the defences.”

The northern wall of the River Blyth, which protects Reydon Marshes and the A1095 road linking Southwold to the A12, will still by maintained by the EA and work to bolster the section of flood bank along Palmer's Lane is due to get under way this autumn.

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