Floodplain quandry in Felixstowe
HOW could Felixstowe cope with a massive flood caused by a sea surge when two inches of snow resulted in chaos on the region's roads?That's the question being posed by a couple battling to stop development on a designated flood plain opposite their home, land which they claim currently acts as a soakaway when water overtops sea walls.
By Richard Cornwell
HOW could Felixstowe cope with a massive flood caused by a sea surge when two inches of snow resulted in chaos on the region's roads?
That's the question being posed by a couple battling to stop development on a designated flood plain opposite their home, land which they claim currently acts as a soakaway when water overtops sea walls.
Edwina and Bob Rust, of Manor Terrace, say that while the new homes will be built to higher levels and standards to cope with flooding risks, their house will not have the same protection – and will be in even more danger in a flood.
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The couple were left even more worried after attending a conference in Norwich to commemorate the 1953 floods and examine future risks.
"All present left the conference in the knowledge that a surge tide similar or larger than the one in 1953 will happen again – we just do not know when," said Mrs Rust.
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"Yes, we are better protected, yes, we will receive an earlier warning, and hopefully no lives will be lost.
"But given all the emergency planning expertise we have now, we were still not able to cope with the snowstorms last week.
"Our journey to and from Felixstowe took more than two hours each way. But we were the fortunate ones, many were stranded on motorways all night.
"How could we possibly cope if there was a flood again?"
Mr and Mrs Rust, who have been refused insurance for their home by two major insurers because of the flood plain, called on Suffolk Coastal to abandon its plan for homes and leisure attractions on the 17-acre south seafront.
"According to the experts to whom we spoke, building on flood plains is not a sensible idea and they could not understand any authority doing it at the present time," said Mrs Rust.
"One highly qualified member of the Environment Agency felt that government guidelines regarding building on floodplains was worded in an ambiguous manner and this particular guideline would be undergoing review shortly."
Suffolk Coastal council said it had sent a represent to the conference to hear the latest information.
It was expecting a planning application for the south seafront from its partner Bloor Homes soon and advice would be taken from the Environment Agency about the project and any measures needed to safeguard the homes.
Professor Andrew Watkinson, of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, said growing storm frequency and rising sea levels could lead to more flooding.
"A lot of people work on a ball park figure of around 50 to 100 centimetres. The computer models also seem to indicate that there will be an increase in climate variability and we're presently seeing evidence of an increase in storminess – but there can be no precision attached to it yet," he said.