Sea defences attacked

COASTAL defence experts were today attacked for providing sketchy solutions with no details or costs for a vulnerable stretch of Suffolk's rivers and shores.

COASTAL defence experts were today attacked for providing sketchy solutions with no details or costs for a vulnerable stretch of Suffolk's rivers and shores.

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer was less than impressed with roadshows outlining options for the future - but urged every resident to make their views known and show they care.

The Environment Agency put forward ideas for tackling flooding problems and managing the estuaries of the Rivers Alde and Ore over the next 100 years.

"The Environment Agency's so-called consultation on coastal defence is a sham," said Mr Gummer.

"They ask us to choose among a series of options, none of which is costed and none in sufficient detail to make an informed judgement.

"The roadshow does not give any further useful material but simply repeats the vague comments in the consultation document.

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"We all want to hold the line and protect the Suffolk Coast, our homes, fields, and countryside. If the Environment Agency wants to let the water in, then it must say why and explain the cost of each of the alternative suggestions.

"No costs - no useful consultation. No sane businessman would make an investment decision without detailed budgets and comparisons."

Mr Gummer said one possibility was the "horrific idea" of allowing the sea in at Slaughden but the roadshow didn't show where or include details.

"Every other proposal is as sketchy and entirely uncosted. This is decision making of the madhouse," he said.

"We all must reply to the consultation or they will say we don't care.

"Our answers must be simple. We want them to hold the line against the sea and we will not even consider the slightest amendment to that line without full costings, full details, and independent expert assessments of the effect on our fields, our homes, and our Suffolk heritage."

The Environment Agency has said predicted sea level rises will send increasing amount of water into the rivers and needs to be taken into account, as well as protecting the wildlife and habitat the estuaries provide.

The estuary stretches from its mouth at Shingle Street upriver to Snape. The condition of many of its flood embankments is currently deteriorating, partly due to erosion of the salt marsh.

Studies have also examined the impact on the estuary of a breach occurring on the narrow neck of land between Aldeburgh and Orfordness - there have been fears that a serious breach could leave Aldeburgh as an island and make dramatic changes to the coastline.

The agency said the roadshows were a chance to see the options considered so far and those which will now be taken forward for detailed evaluation.