Support grows for protest group

SUPPORT is growing for a new protest group which aims to fight the government over moves which could see the coast of Suffolk changed forever.Opponents fear new government rules on funding for sea defences and proposals for "managed retreat" – letting cliffs and beaches be eroded – will damage wildlife habitat and threaten communities, estuaries and shoreline.

SUPPORT is growing for a new protest group which aims to fight the government over moves which could see the coast of Suffolk changed forever.

Opponents fear new government rules on funding for sea defences and proposals for "managed retreat" - letting cliffs and beaches be eroded - will damage wildlife habitat and threaten communities, estuaries and shoreline.

To fight for improved coast protection, lobby group Suffolk Coastal Against Retreat (SCAR) is being formed.

Felixstowe Town Council, which is worried about the impact of government policy on the Deben and Orwell estuaries and parts of the seafront, has thrown its weight behind the campaign.

It has agreed to send representatives to the first meeting of SCAR - which is being set up by Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer - at Aldeburgh Moot Hall on December 11.

Mr Gummer said the aim of the group was to be "a non party political umbrella organisation" which would provide a "united front" encompassing many interested organisations along the coast.

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It would "stand up to these proposals for managed retreat" and the government's decision to concentrate flood funds on the protection of inland areas.

"I am very concerned that unless a united county stand is made now the coast of Suffolk will be changed irrevocably," said Mr Gummer.

Felixstowe town, district and county councillor Ann Rodwell said the issue of coast protection was vital - Bawdsey was suffering problems and so was the area between Old Felixstowe and Felixstowe Ferry, where work is currently taking place to shore up the defences.

"We all need to work together on this and not in isolation - it's going to be quite a fight but we need to get started," she said.

Former Felixstowe mayor Andy Smith, also cabinet member for planning at Suffolk Coastal, said SCAR appeared a "very worthwhile campaign" but it faced a national political-philosophical battle.

The government's latest paper Making Space for Water had shown a clear change of direction in flood protection policy.

He said the Environment Agency was as frustrated as the council in the difficulties it now faced over coast protection.

Suffolk Coastal had faced a major battle over funds for work at Bawdsey but could not get grant aid. And if the Suffolk shoreline management plan was reviewed - as it soon would be - there would be many areas where sea defences would not be built in future, the coast left to "managed retreat".

Mr Smith said he had met representatives from the Environment Agency last week and they were finding it very difficult to come up with a justification for maintenance of the Blyth, Deben and Alde estuaries under the new policies.

n What do you think - should we just abandon our coastline to the sea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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