Action over new flood defences

LOW-lying areas of Felixstowe are today at grave risk of flooding - and urgent action is needed to replace decaying sea defences.Experts say hundreds of homes, businesses, seafront gardens and amusements, and even the port - Britain's biggest container terminal - will be at risk if the defences fail in a storm surge.

LOW-lying areas of Felixstowe are today at grave risk of flooding - and urgent action is needed to replace decaying sea defences.

Experts say hundreds of homes, businesses, seafront gardens and amusements, and even the port - Britain's biggest container terminal - will be at risk if the defences fail in a storm surge.

With the world still reeling from the shocking floods and devastation in the wake of hurricane Katrina along America's southern states, all coastal towns are looking anxiously at their defences.

Forty people died at Felixstowe in 1953 when floods swept the east coast in Britain's biggest peacetime disaster, and a repeat cannot be ruled out.


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Although massive sea defences above flood levels have been built since, changing weather systems and rising sea levels because of global warming mean defences must be upgraded regularly.

Tonight councillors will approve a £5 million-plus scheme to replace the crumbling groynes on the resort's main holiday beaches, those between the Town Hall and Manor End, where the south seafront regeneration project will be built.

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“The existing frontline coastal defences, the beach and groynes, in south Felixstowe are in urgent need of replacement,” said Rae Leighton, Suffolk Coastal cabinet member.

“The defences are in poor condition, a number of groynes have collapsed or have had to be demolished for health and safety reasons.

“These structures are at risk of further damage this winter and need replacing as soon as possible. The biggest single risk is delay in implementing the proposed works.”

Mr Leighton said a large area of low-lying land on the southern Felixstowe peninsular was at risk, including the port, residential and commercial property, county and district council managed assets, such as highways, car parks and amenity parks and gardens.

The cabinet is being recommended to approve 19 new rock groynes - mostly T-shaped fishtail groynes - between the War Memorial and Landguard Common.

Engineers believe the new groynes, 110 metres apart, roughly the area covered by six of the current dilapidated ones, will be the best solution to the erosion suffered in the south of the resort.

When they are in place they should create 10 metres of high beach at high tide - compared with the situation at present where the sea washes to the prom.

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