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Policy is blamed for coastal crisis

PUBLISHED: 14:48 18 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:26 03 March 2010

GOVERNMENT policies could be to blame for the erosion of the Suffolk coastline a Felixstowe man has claimed.

Licences are granted to construction companies to take shingle from the North Sea, but Peter Wheatley believes the shingle is gradually running out.

GOVERNMENT policies could be to blame for the erosion of the Suffolk coastline a Felixstowe man has claimed.

Licences are granted to construction companies to take shingle from the North Sea, but Peter Wheatley believes the shingle is gradually running out.

He is also pointing the finger at Suffolk Coastal who he claims know what the problem is but refuse to acknowledge it or do anything about it.

During the 1960's, just two licences were given by the Government for the dredging of the North Sea, but Mr Wheatley of Colneis Road claims that figure has dramatically increased.

He believes that last year, more than 70 licences were issued which are taking away the natural resource that helps to prevent the coastline being washed away.

He said: "We are losing a large amount of shingle from our beaches.

"The shingle only moves north to south and not east to west therefore it never comes back this way once it has gone.

"More shingle is given to us by nature and the Government is selling that off.

"Any deposits which would normally end up on our coastline are instead being taken away by foreign dredging companies on the continent."

The Crown Estate who owns the seabed issues the licences but the Environment Agency and local authorities are always consulted before one is given.

Principal project manager for the EA, Nigel Pask has worked on an extensive project further along the east coast, between Mablethorpe and Skegness.

He said: "We look for any changes in coastal processes that might be caused by dredging.

"Along the North Sea coast there are off shore sand banks which can offer protection to the shore line.

"Anything that affects these would be negative."

The final decision as to whether dredging can take place falls on the shoulders of the Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs which is in the process of introducing a statutory licensing procedure.

Crown Estates joins in research with the DEFRA (formerly MAFF) to look into recolonisation of the seabed after dredging as well as doing regional impact assessment studies off the East Coast and into the Bristol channel.

Mr Wheatley believes that the depleting levels of shingle mean the huge force of the waves has nothing to break it before it goes crashing on to the beach, with the full force of the waves gradually wearing away the coastline.

But a spokesman at Suffolk Coastal said it was not believed that dredging was causing a problem to the coastline.

He said: "Dredging licences are issued by the Government, not Suffolk Coastal. The Government agency Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science has confirmed that a licence for aggregate extraction is only issued after an expert assessment confirms there would be no negative effects on the seafront.

"The professional expert view appears to be that the current problems around Felixstowe are as a result of the increasingly unsettled weather, but the Council expects that Government experts will be monitoring the situation."

WEBLINKS: www.crownestate.co.uk

www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

www.environment-agency.gov.uk

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