Conservation area near Southwold could receive increased protection

A NATURE conservation area near Southwold could receive increased protection from flood damage under new plans drawn up by the Environment Agency.

The project will defend the freshwater reed-bed habitat at Easton Broad for 30 to 50 years, while improving the Suffolk Coast Path, and safeguarding the B1127 Reydon to Wrentham against flooding.

The scheme will also attempt to find suitable land to recreate a smaller part of the reed-bed which will be affected by tidal flooding as the coastline changes as a result of rising sea levels.

A drop-in session is being held at Reydon Village Hall, Lowestoft Road, on Thursday between 2pm and 7pm to explain and discuss the plans.

Mark Johnson, coastal manager at the Environment Agency said: 'We have duties under the EU Habitats Directive to take appropriate steps to prevent deterioration of internationally designated nature conservation areas.

'A consequential benefit of the project will be, in the medium-term, an increased level of protection to the B1127 Reydon-Wrentham Road from flooding. 'We are also looking to incorporate a footpath along the lower berm of the new embankment which will provide a safer route for users of the Suffolk Coast Path.'

If approved, the first phase of construction, including a trial section, will start in late August and will be phased in over two to three years.

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The final stage will be finished by 2017, having been planned to avoid the bird breeding season and reduce potential damage to habitats and species.

Easton Broad consists of a sand and gravel front, shaped by the tide into a ridge, with an open stretch of salt water behind it. Beyond the open saline water is the UK's second largest freshwater reed-bed.

The Easton River flows through the reed-bed and on, via a pipe under the sand and gravel ridge, into the sea.

The plans to protect the conservation area come after home-owners in nearby Easton Bavents secured a land rights pledge from Waveney District Council. It enables people whose homes are threatened by erosion to move to safe land nearby while retaining residential land use rights that allow them to build a similar property on the new site.

Retired engineer Peter Boggis, of Easton Bavents, has spent tens of thousands of pounds installing his own soft sea defences and was involved in a legal row with Natural England over erosion policy.

The Suffolk Coast Path is one of three long distance routes within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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