Sea defences hope

URGENTLY needed new sea defences to protect low-lying areas of Felixstowe at grave risk of flooding today came another step nearer as permission was sought for the project.

URGENTLY needed new sea defences to protect low-lying areas of Felixstowe at grave risk of flooding today came another step nearer as permission was sought for the project.

Suffolk Coastal is proposing to spend £5 million-plus on huge new fishtail rock groynes between the pier and Landgard Common.

In addition, tens of thousands of tonnes of dredged sand and gravel will be pumped ashore to replenish the eroded beaches and give the new breakwaters a head start.

It is hoped work will take place next summer as the current worn-out timber and concrete groynes are said to have only a couple of winters' life left in them.

Experts say hundreds of homes, businesses, seafront gardens and amusements, and even the port will be at risk if the defences fail in a storm surge.

While the work will cause some disruption to the resort, traders hopefully will not notice a downturn in trade - as similar schemes have proved to be quite an attraction for visitors.

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The council has now applied for planning permission for the project and is also seeking substantial government grant aid towards the cost.

There have been some concerns Whitehall has been limiting grants, especially with so much money needed for inland flooding schemes because of changing weather patterns.

But council officials are confident the scheme will receive the help it needs as it will protect thousands of people plus Britain's biggest container terminal.

Forty people died in this area of Felixstowe in 1953 when floods swept the east coast in Britain's biggest peacetime disaster.

The 19 new rock groynes, 110 metres apart, roughly the area covered by six of the current dilapidated ones, should create 10 metres of high beach at high tide - compared with the situation at present where the sea washes to the prom.

Council cabinet member Rae Leighton said the frontline defences were in urgent need of replacement, in poor condition, with a number of groynes collapsed or demolished for health and safety reasons.

“These structures are at risk of further damage this winter and need replacing as soon as possible. The biggest single risk is delay in implementing the proposed works,” he said.

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