Row over scheme to pay for sea defences

CONSERVATIONISTS today called on the government to hold an inquiry into proposals to build 25 new homes in three villages to pay for £2.2million sea defences to protect the communities.

CONSERVATIONISTS today called on the government to hold an inquiry into proposals to build 25 new homes in three villages to pay for £2.2million sea defences to protect the communities.

Planners are considering the homes at Bawdsey, Alderton and Hollesley to generate the cash to shore up the vulnerable stretch of coastline at East Lane, where several metres of land has been lost in the past year.

But the land on the outskirts of the villages would not normally be used for housing - and the Suffolk Preservation Society (SPS) says the move could set a dangerous precedent that would potentially affect the entire East of England coastal area.

The society says a government inquiry is needed to decide an issue of such national importance.

Three landowners and farmers are set to give the land to the East Lane Trust to sell if permission can be gained for the homes.

Supporters say with no government grant aid available it is a “practical and pragmatic way” to raise the funds needed.

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SPS director Richard Ward said: “We understand the genuine concern of local communities at the risk of flooding and the frustration of those losing their land, so the society is not surprised these proposals have come forward.

“But as the land being proposed for these developments would usually be protected, there would have to be an overriding need of national importance for permission to be granted.

“Clearly, doing nothing is not an option, but if the plans are approved it would establish a precedent for similar proposals in Suffolk and potentially the entire coastal area of the East of England.

“Dealing with coastal erosion could end up with a series of ad hoc planning decisions relating to enabling development.

“We feel there should be an overall strategy for the management of the coastline and estuaries of Suffolk.

“There are issues of both a national and regional importance here, as there is still some uncertainty that the proposed sea defences will work and what impacts they could have in other coastal areas and estuaries in regards to accelerated erosion.”

Suffolk Coastal councillors are to visit the housing sites and the coast to see the erosion before making a decision.

Do you think building homes to pay for sea defences is a good idea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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