A12 flooding fears

Coastal planners believe the future regeneration of Lowestoft and Yarmouth could be undermined by plans to withdraw flood defence funds in north Suffolk.

Coastal planners believe the future regeneration of Lowestoft and Yarmouth could be undermined by plans to withdraw flood defence funds in north Suffolk.

The Environment Agency (EA) announced in September its intention to change the defence policy of the river Blyth to "no active intervention" - leaving roads, property and wildlife at increased flood risk when the existing banks fail.

One of the main concerns of protesters is the increased disruption to the A12 - recognised by businesses as the most important route connecting Lowestoft to the rest of the region and London.

The road was closed at Blythburgh for 26 hours after the tidal surge of November 9, with experts saying the crucial trade link could flood much more often if the defences are neglected.


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EA officials justified the strategy by saying govern-ment guidance prevented them spending more money than the value of the land and property at risk, but agreed last week to extend the consultation deadline to allow the economic fallout to be explored.

In a report to Waveney's executive committee, Julian Walker, Waveney's principal service manager for coast protection, recommends the draft strategy proposal be considered "unacceptable" and asks the council to push for more government funding.

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The report says: "The potential for flooding in Lowe-stoft and Yarmouth could threaten the regeneration strategies for the two towns."

Waveney District Council leader Mark Bee said: "We will take a very strong line on this issue because it is so important, not just to the integrity of the coastal defences, but to the A12 and the impact on the economy of Lowestoft and the surrounding area."

The report suggests options for protecting the A12 against a 100-year flood event, including a £2.2m rebuild of the river walls, or raising the road level at a cost of £600,000.

Waveney's executive committee will discuss the strategy tomorrow, while Suffolk County Council has already held its debate into the plans.

Guy McGregor, the cabinet member for roads and transport, said: "Once you start to give up your defence of the coast, it is gone for ever, and the reality is you will never recover from that."

The EA's eastern area manager, Dr Charles Beardall, said: "We have always recognised the A12 is a significant concern and we are in discussion with the county council to review

the best way to protect the road.

"We are looking at all the options and we will be able to put some money towards it. We won't be able to fund any long-term solutions but we recognise the issue and we want to work closely with the highways department to determine how to address it."

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