Southwold Beach and cash loss

Southwold and the town beach

Southwold and the town beach

At a cost of £8.5 million groynes were placed in front of Southwold town beach and Easton Marsh between 2005 and 2007 to put into practice a scheme designed by Halcrow that was predicted to maintain and build the beach to keep the drop from the promenade to less than 4 feet. The groynes were shortened at the behest of Natural England to ‘allow them to merge into natural land spaces’. The Southwold Coastal Scheme was a joint Waveney and Environment Agency project funded by a DEFRA Grant in Aid (GiA).

But recent monitoring by Waveney District Council shows that the beach drop is now between 5 and 6 feet. Paul Patterson, senior coastal engineer for the Council reported to the Town Council meeting “the groynes were not capturing as much sand as expected. I believe the groynes are not performing in the way we want them to” adding that “the identification of problems and correction of that involves significant sums of money” and that “the fault would take at least five years to resolve”.

Halcrow were told at three previous local meetings that the scheme would fail by Peter Boggis, the local people and the fishermen. Even MP John Gummer warned them to listen to locals and fishermen alike, but they did not heed. The Environment Agency representative was asked by Paul England if the council could sue specialist advisers for bad advice as private enterprise would. The reply was a decisive ‘No!

The Council has now submitted a joint bid with the Environment Agency for more DEFRA funding to carry out a further study assessing the performance of the coastal defence scheme. If only Waveney Council and Halcrow would recognise the impact of Marine Aggregate Dredging! As far as can be determined they have never once objected to issuing licences for dredging off the coastline as other local Councils have.

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