National Trust to look at front line sea defence retreat in Norfolk and Suffolk

100th anniversary of the National Trust buying Blakeney Point and turning it into Norfolk's first na

100th anniversary of the National Trust buying Blakeney Point and turning it into Norfolk's first nature reserve.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

Norfolk and Suffolk will feature strongly in a National Trust report looking at retreating from some front-line sea defences.

The charity's coast and marine advisor, Phil Dyke, who is co-authoring the report following the recent tidal surges, has said people must move away from the 'rigid view that we must hold the line everywhere' and look at policies including abandoning front line defences and building sea banks further back, known as 'adaptation'.

In the study, due out next month, the National Trust has been looking at defences in Brancaster, Blakeney, Horsey, Dunwich, Orford Ness and Northey Island, which were breached in the recent tidal surges.

Mr Dyke said; 'There is no support at the moment for adaptation.

'There is support for defences. But as we know so well from Happisburgh, when government policy changes, people are literally left hanging.

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'The question is whether we need a broader range of policy options.

'We want to use to use the old coast line to absorb wave energy before it comes to new defences.'

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He also suggested moving some infrastructure, such as roads, further back.

Mr Dyke said that a policy of enhancing sea banks, but not on the front line, had performed well in West Sussex.

He said: 'By creating good sea banks back from the coast and a more naturally functioning coastline, the areas that were previously defended were in a win-win situation. You have rolled back, but to a much better position for the longer term.'

He added: 'We actually like to see these broader issues brought into play rather than this rigid view that we must hold the line everywhere.'

Denise Burke, North Norfolk Labour's Prospective Parliamentary candidate, said it was disappointing that the National Trust believed some areas should be sacrificed to the sea, including three locations in north Norfolk.

'Where does this government's strategy of roll-back end? How much land and how many properties are we willing to see disappear?' she added. Should the flood defences be rebuilt or should we allow the sea to come in? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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