Outcry grows over plan to allow flooding

Angry property owners and politicians have criticised controversial plans to abandon defences on the River Blyth, leaving homes, wildlife and roads exposed to flooding.

Angry property owners and politicians have criticised controversial plans to abandon defences on the River Blyth, leaving homes, wildlife and roads exposed to flooding.

The Environment Agency (EA) announced on Friday that it only had enough money to maintain the current flood defences against rising sea levels for another 20 years, leaving 40 homes and thousands of acres of land at major risk of flooding.

The plan would also result in more frequent closures of one of the county's main trunk roads as the flood plain expands across the A12 at Blythburgh.

About 350 people attended special drop-in sessions in Walberswick and Reydon to quiz EA's flood strategists about the impact on their property and the loss of freshwater habitats.

At Friday's meeting at Walberswick Village Hall, farmer Andrew Hall, owner of Reydon Marshes, said: “It is a disgraceful plan to allow people's homes and land to be flooded.

“I understand there are more important things than agricultural land, people's homes for a start, but I have 250 cows grazing on Reydon Marshes and if it floods we don't have other land to support a herd of that size - we could cope for maybe a year or two but after that I don't know.”

Most Read

At Reydon Village Hall on Saturday, London doctor Caroline Hyde, 55, said she bought a home on Halesworth Road earlier this year which now stands on the edge of the predicted spring-tide flood levels after five years.

“It is not clear how this will change but the biggest tragedy is that this is an area of enormous environmental and conservation value,” she said.

“I own the property and it has massive implications but at the moment I am much more concerned about the impact on the reed bed. If water comes in through my door there has got to be ways of stopping it, but there are so few reed beds left.”

EA officials said although they recognised difficulties faced by land-owners, written feedback from the drop-ins suggested that visitors felt better informed about the reasons behind the scheme.

Area flood risk manager Mark Johnson said: “General feedback is that these sessions have been helpful but many people are still very concern-ed. We are keen to work with property owners who are affected by the draft plans and will be looking to work with them to explore what potential solutions could be funded.”

Area manager Charles Beardall said the EA was obliged by the EU Birds Directive to recreate the freshwater habitats, and that it was working with Suffolk County Council to find ways of resolving the more frequent flooding of the A12.

He said: “There are changes here that are unstoppable and we have to adapt to them.”

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for transport, said: “As the highway authority we are very concerned about the proposals.

“This is an important road between the county town and Lowestoft and I do not think the Environment Agency have fully costed the impact on the transport system.

“Of course there is a cost to maintaining access in the event of a flood, but it is about reliability. Emergency serv-ices won't be able to get through and people will be cut off. It is quite frankly ludicrous.”

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