Flooding fears for riverside residents

FLOOD-worried residents today raised concerns that blueprints for a barrier to protect Ipswich from tidal surges could increase the risk in other areas.

FLOOD-worried residents today raised concerns that blueprints for a barrier to protect Ipswich from tidal surges could increase the risk in other areas.

The Environment Agency could not rule out the possibility that plans for the £40million defence system might throw up extra hazards while the finer practical details were thrashed out.

But it looked to reassure people that their voice would be heard and safeguards taken to nullify any future risks.

Funding was secured last week to build much-needed defences across the River Orwell at the New Cut, which will dramatically reduce the chances of the town becoming submerged.

But there are fears the plans could bite back against people living downstream of the barrier.

Malcolm Harding, of Pin Mill, said: “The flood defences may be fine for protecting Ipswich town from flooding, but it will exacerbate the flood risk for low-lying habitations on the wrong side of the barrier.”

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Mr Harding called on the Environment Agency to take a more strategic view on flood defences rather than supporting what he described as “piece-meal, local projects”.

The 62-year-old added: “As rising sea levels now seem inevitable, surely any flood defences should be at the river mouth between Felixstowe and Harwich, rather than twelve miles inland.”

Renee Waite, 66, who also lives in a cottage near the water at Pin Mill, said: “We all had quite a fright when we had the last surge tide in November. If we had a surge tide like that when we've got a barrier shut we're obviously going to get more in low lying districts.

“We don't know what the effect will be. There could be no effect, we just don't know.”

The barrier, which alone is forecast to cost £30million, will be constructed across the New Cut, opposite the Island site at Ipswich Waterfront, once further funding has been secured.

Work is expected to start in February next year on the first phase of the scheme, which will see the river banks being raised near Bath Street and the Wet Dock entrance.

Rita Penman, of the Environment Agency, said: “One of the things we have to look at when we are planning any defences is the knock-on effect it has elsewhere. We don't just do things willy-nilly.

“Anyone will have the opportunity to put forward their concerns if there was going to be a risk to where that person lived. We will look to mitigate those risks and make sure the water goes another way.”

Are you worried that Ipswich's new barrier could increase the flooding near you? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk