Minister views sea defence work

CONSTRUCTION of a £10million sea defence project to protect 1,600 homes and businesses from flooding was hailed as a fine example of agencies working together.

Richard Cornwell

CONSTRUCTION of a £10million sea defence project to protect 1,600 homes and businesses from flooding was hailed as a fine example of agencies working together.

Senior government minister Barbara Follett inspected progress of the scheme on Felixstowe seafront as part of a visit to discuss the future of the county's coastline.

She was shown the work to build new rock groynes on the shore off Sea Road and replenish the eroding beach with 200,000 cubic metres of sand and shingle, currently being pumped ashore along a two kilometre pipeline.

“The government, its agencies and local councils must work together for an integrated solution to the dangers of flooding,” said East of England minister Mrs Follett.

“You can't do something if locals disagree, especially in the context of a shoreline management plan.

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“We have to listen to local people and work with them to decide the best way forward.

“I've come to see for myself the strategy in Felixstowe - it is very important for the town's tourism that we have taken action to protect its beaches.

“This has been made possible by government funding and, along with the very important expansion of the port will, I hope, play a vital role in the regeneration of the resort and beyond.

“I am happy with the work that has been done so far and I shall be taking back to colleagues in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs the message that much more will have to be done to protect this precious coastline.

“I see myself as an electric cattle prod - ensuring that everyone works together to ensure joined-up thinking.”

Deputy leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, Andy Smith said: “We were glad to have the opportunity today to share with the minister our relief at seeing work under way at last to protect South Felixstowe from flooding, and to secure the future of many of the resort facilities.

“However, we cannot rest on this success, and our attention is now firmly on the apparently uncertain future of much of the east Suffolk coastline, and particularly its estuaries, which has been put firmly in the spotlight with the Environment Agency's proposals for the Blyth.”

Mrs Follett met representatives of Suffolk Coastal, Waveney and the county council, along with MP John Gummer to discuss the Blyth situation, where a policy of managed retreat could sever the A12 at Blythburgh, a road crucial to the future regeneration and prosperity of Lowestoft.

Do you think enough is done to maintain sea defences? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk