Urgent plea to help tackle beach erosion

EFFORTS are being made to set up a top-level meeting with government officials to discuss the state of Felixstowe's rapidly eroding beaches.Whitehall has turned down pleas for £5 million grant aid towards £10m new sea defences for the southern part of the resort.

EFFORTS are being made to set up a top-level meeting with government officials to discuss the state of Felixstowe's rapidly eroding beaches.

Whitehall has turned down pleas for £5 million grant aid towards £10m new sea defences for the southern part of the resort.

But the situation is worsening every day and rough seas have swept away thousands of tonnes of sand and shingle, leaving an 8ft drop to the beach from the prom.

Metal railings have now been put in place for 100 metres as a safety measure to stop people falling off the prom onto lumps of broken concrete groynes and war defences below.

Engineers say parts of prom are at severe risk of at least partial collapse, and more than 1,600 homes, three caravan sites, a school, tourist attractions and Britain's top port - property worth more than £400m - could be at risk of flooding.

Suffolk Coastal's chief executive Stephen Baker wrote to DEFRA asking for Felixstowe's defences to be treated as “an urgent special case” and said flooding would be “likely to be catastrophic to the town and the district”.

Most Read

In his letter to Minister of State, Elliot Morley, Mr Baker said: “I appreciate the significance and difficulty of the request that I am making, but I believe the costs and risks to the public and the national interest justify an exceptional decision.”

A council spokeswoman said Mr Baker had received a reply from DEFRA.

“This reiterated previous government advice, but a meeting with DEFRA engineers is being sought,” she said.

In a detailed report sent to DEFRA, the council said beach levels had fallen considerably, exposing the prom to wave attack and reducing the flood and erosion protection.

The low beach levels were resulting in more stress on the sea wall, and if current trends continued there could be a collapse, most likely around the Shore Break café in Sea Road.

This could then threaten the foundations, and the stability of the Environment Agency's vital flood wall, which protects the low-lying parts of the town from flooding.

The report said if the new defences did not take place and the situation deteriorated further, the council would have to consider closing part of the prom.

Relevant Links

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

www.defra.gov.uk

Are you worried about the risk of flooding? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Factfile: Felixstowe's sea defences

Suffolk Coastal and the Environment Agency want to put in place £10m of new defences for southern Felixstowe.

This would include 19 rock groynes between the War Memorial and Landguard to replace 50 decaying concrete breakwaters, which experts say may only last a couple more winters.

Work was to start this summer - planning permission has been granted and negotiations were taking place over traffic routes, compounds, measures to prevent dust pollution and noise.

The defences would protect 1,616 homes, the port, and many businesses and tourist attractions.

Source: Suffolk Coastal District Council

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter