Rocks could be prom feature for years

HUGE rocks being used to shore up Felixstowe's prom and stop it collapsing are a "temporary measure" – but could be in place some years.Although coastal engineers hope beach levels will return naturally by the spring, it seems unlikely that hut owners will be able to use their sites next summer.

By Richard Cornwell

HUGE rocks being used to shore up Felixstowe's prom and stop it collapsing are a "temporary measure" – but could be in place some years.

Coastal engineers hope beach levels will return naturally by the spring – but it seems unlikely that hut owners will be able to use their sites next summer.

Granite placed a year ago to deal with the same sort of localised problem between the breakwaters alongside the latest trouble spot have not been removed even though beach levels have improved. The stones are likely to stay in place for some time.

Andy Smith, Suffolk Coastal cabinet member for planning, said it would take a while for the £3million Cobbold's Point sea defence scheme to settle down.

He said:"When we did works at The Dip in 1986 the beach was all swept away at first and then over a period of time it filled up again. Now we have excellent beaches in that area. The rock we are placing in Undercliff Road East is temporary in that it is not permanent like a concrete sea wall and can be moved if the beaches improve.

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"But when that will happen we cannot say at this time. We have to be sure the beach is working right and then rocks can come out. That is not going to happen in a month, possibly not several months.

"We needed to do something immediately to protect this area and in particular the prom, and now we shall be watching what happens very closely.

"Next spring we shall receive a report from our consultants Halcrow. We wait with great interest to see what they say and suggest."

High tides last week swept away several feet of sand and shingle from the East Beach in Undercliff Road East. It exposed the foundations of the prom and revealed the remains of a war-time gun emplacement. Beach huts and their stands had to be removed from the shore, and the prom has been fenced off for safety reasons.

Emergency works involve placing rocks to protect the wall, and to fill in the gap in one groyne. Repairs will also be carried out to the ground under the prom.

Further works are to be done at Manor End. Experts have warned that the front-line defences there, the breakwaters, could fail this winter and lead to damage to the prom and the sea wall.

Mr Smith said: "What we are striving towards is a co-ordinated approach to the issue of sea defence in Felixstowe as a whole. We have to be careful that we are not now putting in safeguards that will cause further problems elsewhere, or need to be removed at large cost once the whole defence programme has been drawn up."

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