Landma could face a watery fate

HISTORIC Bawdsey Manor, a Martello Tower and several homes could be lost to the waves unless sea defence work costing £2.5 million is carried out.Farmland would be flooded and the North Sea could inundate the coastal floodplain as far north as Shingle Street unless action is taken.

HISTORIC Bawdsey Manor, a Martello Tower and several homes could be lost to the waves unless sea defence work costing £2.5 million is carried out.

Farmland would be flooded and the North Sea could inundate the coastal floodplain as far north as Shingle Street unless action is taken.

Engineers say there is an "increasing risk" of failure of the defences at East Lane, Bawdsey, and the Napoleonic fort and some homes could be lost in about seven years with rising sea levels and scientists' predictions of more storms.

Cliffs near the Martello Tower have eroded rapidly over the past winter and Bawdsey Parish Council has expressed extreme concern about the situation.


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The situation at Bawdsey Manor – the birthplace of radar – is less urgent, though consultants warn its defences could fail in a decade and within 25 years, if no action is taken, the manor and quay will collapse into the sea.

Suffolk Coastal council's cabinet is to be asked on April 1 whether it wants to take action – or do nothing.

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Officers recommend councillors to press ahead with a sea defence scheme at East Lane, and to hold talks with the owners of the manor, Environment Agency and DEFRA over future protection.

The council will need to contribute £450,000 to the £1.5m cost of the East Lane scheme, which will involve huge amounts of rock to protect the cliff, while the Environment Agency foots the rest of the bill.

It is suggested £1.1m will need to be spent to protect Bawdsey Manor but no details have yet emerged of what sort of defences will be built.

In a report to cabinet, director of planning and leisure Jeremy Schofield says: "The promontory at East lane has been suffering from progressive deterioration for some years.

"The present problem is the increasing risk of failure of the defences and subsequent loss or damage to local and strategic assets such as properties, historical interests, agricultural land and sea water inundation of the potential floodplain to the north as far as Shingle Street."

Development of a partnership scheme with the agency is at an early stage and formal consultation will take place soon. Government grant aid is expected to be available to offset the cost of the work.

n What do you think – should action be taken or not? Should we be spending millions of pounds of public money protecting private properties such as Bawdsey Manor and the Martello Tower? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

fastfacts:

n Elizabethan-style Bawdsey manor was built between 1886 and 1910 by eccentric Sir Cuthbert Quilter, an MP for Ipswich during Victorian times.

n In 1937 it was taken over as a radar station by the Ministry of Defence.

n Robert Watson Watt and his team of scientists pioneered radar at the manor, which played a key role in the Battle of Britain three years later.

n The manor is reputed to have a warren of rooms 80 feet below ground, including workshops, air conditioning plant, and a telephone exchange large enough to serve a small town, from which war operations were masterminded.

n It continued after the 1939 45 conflict as an RAF base during the Cold War with its missiles pointing towards Russia, but today is used as a private school.

n Bawdsey Quay welcomes thousands of visitors every year, some of them arriving via the foot ferry from Felixstowe Ferry run by John White.

n The East Lane Martello Tower was one of string of forts built along the south and east coasts in case Napoleon should invade.

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