Sea poses risk to historic buildings

URGENT action is being taken to stop homes and an historic Martello Tower at Bawdsey from being lost to the sea this winter.Coast defence engineers say there is an "increasing risk" of failure of the current defences at East Lane, and the Napoleonic fort and some homes could be swept away if scientists' predictions of rising sea levels and more storms prove correct.

URGENT action is being taken to stop homes and an historic Martello Tower at Bawdsey from being lost to the sea this winter.

Coast defence engineers say there is an "increasing risk" of failure of the current defences at East Lane, and the Napoleonic fort and some homes could be swept away if scientists' predictions of rising sea levels and more storms prove correct.

Soft cliffs near the tower took a battering and eroded rapidly last winter and Bawdsey Parish Council has expressed extreme concern about the situation.

Sea defences are now being bolstered with 500 tonnes of rock to provide further protection to safeguard the cliffs, houses and tower.


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"We decided that urgent action is needed to protect this area for the immediate future from the constant impact of the waves and from any storms," said Andy Smith, deputy leader of Suffolk Coastal council.

"The cliffs adjacent to this particular sea defence are not protected and have eroded by ten metres since last autumn.

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"If it was not for the existing defence the Martello Tower, which is only 12 metres from the cliff, could have been lost last winter."

Suffolk Coastal is undertaking the work in partnership with landowners and the Environment Agency, and it is expected that it will be completed within a couple of weeks.

"The good news for this area is that there are proposals for a future joint Suffolk Coastal, Environment Agency, DEFRA grant-aided scheme that will provide protection for the next 50 years," added Mr Smith, cabinet member with responsibility for planning.

The work of bringing in the rocks and putting them in place is being carried out on behalf of the council by J Brenheny Contractors Ltd and is being overseen by Terry Oakes Associates.

Experts have warned that farmland could be flooded and the North Sea could inundate the coastal floodplain as far north as Shingle Street unless long-term action is taken.

A scheme costing around £1.5 million has been drawn up for East Lane, where forecasts say there could be serious problems within seven years, while around £1.1 million will also need to be spent further south to protect Bawdsey Manor.

The situation at the manor – the birthplace of radar – is less urgent, though consultants have warned that its defences could fail in a decade and within 25 years, if no action is taken, the manor and quay will collapse into the sea.

Talks have been taking place with landowners about helping with the cost of the work, while applications for grants will also be made to government.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

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