Flooding danger of climate change

CLIMATE change will see thousands of acres of Suffolk sunk under rising sea levels if nothing is done to stop it.As an exhibition was held to examine the problem around the Deben estuary the facts are that if nothing is done: Felixstowe Ferry will become an island.

CLIMATE change will see thousands of acres of Suffolk sunk under rising sea levels if nothing is done to stop it.

As an exhibition was held to examine the problem around the Deben estuary the facts are that if nothing is done:

Felixstowe Ferry will become an island.

Newbourne, currently over a mile from the river, will have a beach.

Huge areas of marshes at Felixstowe, Falkenham and Bawdsey will be flooded every day.

Thousands of acres of farmland will be lost.

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Increased sea levels mean millions of gallons of extra water sweep daily into the tidal river and doing nothing to combat it is one of seven options being put forward for the next 100 years.

Despite its low cost in financial terms, the cost of "doing nothing" would prove high in terms of disruption to people's lives, threat to homes, and the dramatic changes for wildlife and the landscape, and few people believe it is the solution.

At the other end of the spectrum are high cost schemes needing millions of pounds to "hold the line" - that is maintain the river walls as they are now - or to build a flood barrier to give better storm surge protection.

What is more likely to happen is one of the other options, which involve keeping the current river defences in most places, but removing the walls in others to allow the river to flood certain areas.

The options were unveiled to the public at an exhibition at The Bull Hotel on Market Hill, Woodbridge, by the Environment Agency and their consultants Black and Veatch.

They want as many residents and affected organisations as possible to give their views before they carry out a technical, economic and environmental assessment this summer and then reveal the chosen solution in the autumn.

No costs have yet been disclosed but the assessment will look at how each option could be built and how easy it would be to do, the cost effectiveness, and the effect on navigation, homes, leisure, agriculture, wildlife habitat, water quality, and the landscape.

Climate change experts say sea levels off East Anglia are increasing by six millimetres a year and will do for the next 100 years.

This will mean more water washing into the Deben estuary at Felixstowe Ferry and Bawdsey and faster water speeds, which will increase erosion of the river walls and the mudflats and saltmarshes in front of them.

Even to keep the river as it is and protect the land and homes alongside it will mean spending huge sums to raise and strengthen existing defences.

Doing nothing and letting nature take its course will see large areas, such as Felixstowe marshes - including the historic Kingsfleet, where Edward III set off to fight the French - and Falkenham marshes flooded regularly by the river.

"All land would experience ad hoc flooding," said an Environment Agency spokesman.

"Due to the reduction in erosion and water speeds in the upper estuary there would be a gain of intertidal habitats in front of the defences upstream of Ramsholt, but navigation may become more difficult due to the increased water speeds at the estuary mouth."

Many of the options to protect some areas and in others remove the river walls and allow currently dry land to be flooded are bound to prove controversial.

These include allowing partial flooding of Felixstowe, Falkenham and Kirton marshes to provide an outlet for the extra water, or changes to walls at Kyson, Waldringfield, Ramsholt and Melton.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkestuaries.co.uk

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