Fears for prom as waves rise

FLOODGATES all along Felixstowe seafront remain closed today with more high tides expected as the coast receives an end-of-winter battering.Property owners and council sea defence engineers were anxiously watching the waves and weather forecast amid fears a severe pounding could cause part of the prom to collapse.

FLOODGATES all along Felixstowe seafront remain closed today with more high tides expected as the coast receives an end-of-winter battering.

Property owners and council sea defence engineers were anxiously watching the waves and weather forecast amid fears a severe pounding could cause part of the prom to collapse.

Community leaders have made an urgent plea to the government for funding towards £10 million of new defences for the resort, but were today still waiting for a reply.

Yesterday's high tides passed off peacefully - thanks to the lack of wind - compared with the spectacular scenes at the weekend.

Tides came a long way up the beach but didn't quite reach the prom, which is still strewn with pebbles in parts, and did not threaten the 30-plus floodgates in the Town Wall.

But today the tides were expected to reach 3.98 metres around midday, and tomorrow they will be at their highest this week when they hit 4.04m early afternoon.

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Other parts of the coast were also keeping an eye out for damage. At Bawdsey around two metres a month is being lost and there are fears a Martello Tower could slip into the sea.

Whitehall officials have refused to give money for the Felixstowe scheme this year and now it may have to wait until after another winter.

Suffolk Coastal council has asked for the resort to be treated as a special case and says without the work more than 1,600 homes, three caravan sites, a school, tourist attractions and Britain's top port - property worth more than £400m - could be at risk.

Chief executive Stephen Baker said: “I believe the costs and risks to the public and the national interest justify an exceptional decision.”

As well as the short term risk the council is also looking at the longer term and government is giving it £130,000 to update the Suffolk shoreline management plan - work set to start in April and be completed by spring 2008 - to look at the whole coast from Lowestoft to Felixstowe and plan the need for future defences.

What do you think should be done about the threat of coastal erosion? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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