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Eurocrats say 'non' to flooding dangers

PUBLISHED: 02:23 06 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:36 03 March 2010

THE EUROPEAN Commission has rejected a complaint that a controversial "managed retreat" scheme on the East Anglian coast endangers sea defences and the conservation value of the whole area.

EUROCRATS have rejected a complaint that a controversial "managed retreat" scheme on the East Anglian coast endangers sea defences and the conservation value of the whole area.

The complaint was lodged with the European Commission on behalf of landowners and other interests in the Alde Estuary, near Aldeburgh, where the National Trust has decided not to rebuild the river wall in a bid to recreate an area of wildlife-rich saltmarsh.

The Alde and Ore Association and the local internal drainage board are concerned that the scheme - at Lantern Marshes, immediately behind coastal sea defences - will aggravate the risk of the sea breaking through and flooding land of high environmental value.

However, the European Commission (EC) has now dismissed the complaint, arguing that the breach in the river wall was a "naturally occurring phenomenon in the absence of active and probably unsustainable intervention to prevent it".

The river wall protecting Lantern Marshes fell into disrepair under its previous owner, the Ministry of Defence, and was breached during a high tide in October 1999 – six years after the National Trust took control of the land.

The trust decided not to try to rebuild the wall but to go-ahead with a managed retreat project, allowing saltwater to flood the area with the aim of creating saltmarsh – a valuable wildlife habitat in decline along the whole East Anglian coast.

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