New fears for east coast

WEATHER experts today sounded a warning for the future of the east coast - predicting more tidal surges like those of 1953.The Suffolk coast witnessed a tidal surge last autumn and it would have caused widespread damage and flooding had it coincided with high tide and strong winds.

WEATHER experts today sounded a warning for the future of the east coast - predicting more tidal surges like those of 1953.

The Suffolk coast witnessed a tidal surge last autumn and it would have caused widespread damage and flooding had it coincided with high tide and strong winds.

Many low-lying communities and huge areas of farmland could be under threat if there was a devastating surge and memories of the floods 55 years ago - when 41 people died at Felixstowe - still live with those who survived that terrible night.

The resort is just one of several seaside towns anxiously waiting to see if it will get money this year to carry out major sea defence schemes to protect people, homes and businesses.


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But Defra has still not announced its grant list - with Suffolk Coastal hoping work will start this spring on the £11 million project.

The warning about the increased risk of extreme weather events was voiced as London marked the first quarter century of the Thames Barrier.

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The Met Office said London was one of many areas which would be more at risk from flooding in the future, and the next 25 years could see more extreme weather events, along with more torrential rain, especially during the winter.

The barrier protects the capital against North Sea tidal surges as well as holding back high tides when the river is swollen by heavy rainfall upstream.

Phil Evans, chief advisor to government at the Met Office, said: “The Thames Barrier was conceived following the 1953 floods that left large parts of England's east coast under water.

“Given a rise in sea level and warmer temperatures in the UK we can expect more severe weather events in the future than back then.

“Making the most of the climate change expertise we have the in the UK provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to plan effectively for the future.”

Suffolk Coastal says new defences are needed to protect 1,600 homes, businesses and tourist attractions at Felixstowe from flooding and says the decision could come any day.

A spokesman said: “Everything is in place, the scheme has been approved, a contractor appointed, and we now await the news from the government that will give the scheme the financial go-ahead.”

The scheme - to be done jointly with the Environment Agency - will involve 20 T-shaped rock groynes being built from the south of the pier to Manor End.

A Defra spokeswoman said it was still not known when an announcement would be made. Most of the money would be given to the Environment Agency, which would decide where to spend it.

Are you worried about rising sea levels - are defences adequate? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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