Defence flaw in seafront plan

URGENT negotiations are underway today after the government refused to give cash for desperately-needed sea defences which would protect a proposed £25 million seafront regeneration project.

URGENT negotiations are underway today after the government refused to give cash for desperately-needed sea defences which would protect a proposed £25 million seafront regeneration project.

Unless ministers change their mind and give grant aid, Felixstowe's long-awaited south seafront scheme - a maritime park and 158 new homes on 17 acres of beachside land - cannot go ahead.

The land is a flood plain and the Environment Agency has said it can only be built if the sea defence work, which was due to start next spring, takes place.

Councillors have approved 19 rock groynes between the War Memorial and Landguard to replace 50 decaying concrete breakwaters, which experts say may only last a couple more winters.

But Suffolk Coastal has been told the £5m scheme is not one of those chosen for priority government grant aid.

Cabinet member Rae Leighton said urgent talks were now taking place with officials at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to resolve the problem.

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“This £5m project will offer vital protection against flooding to 1,616 existing homes as well as the Port of Felixstowe and the many local businesses and tourist attractions.

“It is a massively important proposal and it is therefore very disappointing to discover the government is currently unwilling to fund it.

“We will be contacting the government urgently to try and persuade them to recognise that funding has to be made available for this project sooner rather than later.

“Our proposed scheme would offer protection to a great deal of local homes but also the nationally-important port and I hope we get the decision reversed.

“I shall be writing to DEFRA to plead our case for a meeting to discuss the full case for why we think we should be treated specially.

“I think that we have an excellent set of reasons that I hope will win over Defra and mean that our scheme can get underway sooner rather than later. I would accept the work being put back to later next year but the reality is that we cannot allow this part of Felixstowe to face the elements for much longer without proper defences being put in place.”

Are you worried that you could be at risk if the new Felixstowe sea defence project is delayed? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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