New hope for resort's sea defences

THERE is new hope today Felixstowe could soon get the sea defences it needs to protect low-lying areas of the resort from flooding.Government has so far refused to give the £6million needed for works to stop erosion in the south of the town, where 1,600 homes, plus tourist attractions, businesses and the port are at risk from winter's storms.

THERE is new hope today Felixstowe could soon get the sea defences it needs to protect low-lying areas of the resort from flooding.

Government has so far refused to give the £6million needed for works to stop erosion in the south of the town, where 1,600 homes, plus tourist attractions, businesses and the port are at risk from winter's storms.

But now there are indications the Environment Agency - which has already been awarded £5m for sea defence work in the same area of town - could take over responsibility for the whole of the resort's coastline.

Whether this will generate money faster and allow an earlier start on the proposed sea scheme is uncertain.

The news follows a letter from minister of state for climate change and environment Ian Pearson, stating the Environment Agency had agreed to consider taking over responsibility for the entire frontage - removing Suffolk Coastal District Council's responsibility.

Felixstowe Labour councillor Mike Deacon said: “This is really good news.

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“If the Environment Agency takes direct responsibility for Felixstowe it may make it much easier to have a coordinated scheme for all the east coast.

“It will also take the responsibility away from the Conservative-controlled Suffolk Coastal council who have a long history of spending huge amounts on flood defence schemes, but they do not seem to work properly.”

The Environment Agency's plan would include building 20 fishtail groynes, with an estimated cost of £11m.

Suffolk Coastal cabinet member Andy Smith said the council had not received any correspondence from the minister on the issue, but had been working hard behind the scenes to try to secure funding for “what is probably officially the most-needed coastal protection scheme in the country”, and also exploring other options with DEFRA and Environment Agency.

Mr Smith said: “One of the questions we have raised is whether the agency could fund our part of the £11m scheme but there are some significant issues that still need to be satisfactorily addressed.

“For instance, we would think it would be essential that we continue with the management of the beach and the promenade as these are key to the town's tourism industry and should remain under day to day local control.”

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www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

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