Flooding fears

MORE than 1,600 homes, businesses, tourist attractions, and Britain's biggest port could be at risk of serious flooding - unless the government coughs up grant aid for new sea defences.

MORE than 1,600 homes, businesses, tourist attractions, and Britain's biggest port could be at risk of serious flooding - unless the government coughs up grant aid for new sea defences.

That was the stark warning at Felixstowe today after ministers decided the resort's low-lying seafront area was not a high enough priority for help.

As the seaside town braced itself for winter's worst storms, expected over the next few weeks, council experts were trying to persuade the government to change its mind and help fund the £5 million project

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.

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But Suffolk Coastal has been left “very disappointed” after being told it will not get grant aid.

Deputy leader Andy Smith said: “We are still finalising our detailed case on why this work is vital and funding from the government must be made available urgently.

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“We are very concerned about the beach levels in Felixstowe, which is why we have been working so hard in partnership with consultants and the Environment Agency and local residents to draw up a comprehensive programme of works that would result in long-term protection for the resort.

“We hope that the government will recognise the strength of our case when they see the evidence we present on why the proposed protection work at Felixstowe is so important.

“If the work is not carried out then there is a very real flood risk for hundreds of homes and businesses, and indeed the Port of Felixstowe.

“I cannot see how the government can fail to be persuaded once they are presented with the full details of why this work is so urgently required.”

Without the work - scheduled for this summer - the long-awaited £25 million south seafront regeneration scheme - a maritime park and 158 new homes on 17 acres of beachside land - also cannot go ahead.

RADIOACTIVE tracers should be used to find out exactly where the vanishing sand and shingle from Felixstowe's beaches is ending up, it was claimed today.

Growing concern over erosion of the resort's shores has led to claims that material is being swept away into the shipping lane.

Retired civil engineer Norman Thompson said it was a very worrying situation.

“Felixstowe's beaches are hugely important to the resort. What we have now is a dreadful state of affairs. Erosion is very bad and parts of the beach are looking awful with these huge, old dilapidated groynes all jumbled up. But we should be asking where the material is going from our beaches.

“A few years ago 20,000 tonnes of material was sprayed onto the beach near Cobbold's Point as part of a replenishment scheme and it disappeared within two weeks.

“I think material is going into the shipping channel - if we have a traditional north to south drift the material has to cross the lanes at the port.

“The channel is dredged regularly and that material should be deposited back here at Felixstowe - not used on Essex beaches.”

Mr Thompson, of Montague Road, Felixstowe, wants Suffolk Coastal to use radioactive tracers to see where the material is going. These would be placed on the beach and could then be followed to see where they end up.

Council deputy leader Andy Smith said consultants' investigations showed the erosion to be on-shore, off-shore movement.

“All the findings we have so far received give no credence to the suggestion that the beaches are disappearing into the shipping channels,” he said.

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