Road chiefs' A12 flood risk fears

MOVES to abandon flood defences along the Suffolk coast will cost taxpayers up to £5million just to keep open key roads such as the A12, it was revealed today.

MOVES to abandon flood defences along the Suffolk coast will cost taxpayers up to £5million just to keep open key roads such as the A12, it was revealed today.

Highways bosses at Suffolk County Council said the Environment Agency's proposals not to protect the Blyth Estuary in five years' time will mean transport links along the coast could be paralysed.

They said the A12 would suffer regular flooding and closures, causing chaos for people travelling between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

Guy McGregor, the county's transport chief and chairman of the Blyth Estuary Strategy Group, said it could cost around £4.8m to provide protection, raise roads where needed or even reconstruct flood-damaged roads.


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But the Environment Agency insisted its duty was to protect people and homes and said the county council was responsible for keeping roads open and maintaining them.

Mr McGregor will tell a full county council this week that Suffolk already had a “clear picture” of the impact flooding could have on the A12 from last month's storm surge, which saw the road closed for 26 hours.

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He said: “Under the proposals, the Environment Agency would just walk away from future flood protection of these roads and other infrastructure.

“It is completely unacceptable for the Environment Agency and indeed the Government to expect the county council to meet such costs in maintaining these vital road links.”

The agency claims it must save money in sparsely-populated rural areas in order to help fully fund schemes to protect urban populations.

Environment Agency spokesman Richard Woollard said: “We are not abandoning the Blyth estuary. We are continuing with maintenance on parts of the Blyth estuary in the next five years,” he said.

“About 10 days ago we were actually repairing the banks of the Blyth estuary area following the tidal surge weeks ago.”

“Our role is to reduce the risk of flooding to people and property. Roads are the responsibility of the county council. In terms of where that funding would come from would be a matter for them.”

Mr McGregor along with representatives from Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district councils aim to hold meetings with MPs and government ministers over the issue and say the final decision will be taken at the highest level.

On Saturday The Star reported Ipswich Borough Council's flooding concerns that the town's waterfront area was at severe flood risk unless a £71million flood barrier is built.

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