BY RICHARD CORNWELL
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
VISITORS to Felixstowe seafront this autumn and winter will have better access to the promenade thanks to changes to the flood gate opening system.
Normally 24 of the 31 steel gates in the Environment Agency (EA) wall between the Town Hall and Manor End would close between October and May as part of the protection of the low-lying seafront area.
Now four more gates are to be left open – other than when there are any flood warnings in force – to make it easier to walk the prom.
“Once the calmer summer months have gone, we have always tried to keep some of the gates open so that people can easily enjoy a walk along our splendid prom, and we have worked closely with our partners at Suffolk Coastal Services Ltd, who are on standby to close them when the sea is threatening,” said Andy Smith, Suffolk Coastal cabinet member for coastal management.
“The previous regime on the opening and closing of the gates dated from the building of the then long-awaited flood wall in 1983.
“Since then, the quality and accuracy of weather forecasting has improved out of all recognition, particularly in regard to predicting the tidal surges which can potentially endanger our town.
“Similarly the EA’s Flood Warning service, with technology that allows not only ourselves, but also everyone in the areas at risk, to have automatic warnings of possible flood events in very good time gives us total confidence that we can rapidly and reliably close the gates when necessary.”
Thirteen will now be left open – six extra, though two of them are in the south seafront development site and these will remain closed during this winter as the area is currently a construction site.
“Without any compromise to the safety of the town, we can now give people even more ways to get on and off the prom, which hopefully will be much appreciated by our many regular promenaders, and by seafront traders in the area,” said Mr Smith.