‘Strategy for the Future’ on Suffolk Erosion

The article by Tom Potter ‘Thorpeness: Erosion seminar hears strategy for future’ that appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times on October 5th gives good insight into the thinking (if that’s the right word’) of those dealing with coastal erosion strategy. We repeat it here in full, and follow it with a response sent to the speakers and delegates by Jerry Berne of Sustainable Coastlines www.sustainableshorelines.org


Thorpeness: Erosion seminar hears strategy for future
( http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/thorpeness_erosion_seminar_hears_strategy_for_future_1_1567564 )
COLLABORATION was declared the key to maintaining Suffolk’s coastline at a summit of influential delegates.
Fittingly convened overlooking the beach at Thorpeness, The Suffolk Coast and Estuaries Community Conference identified the need for teamwork in protecting the county’s shoreline.

Speakers at the Suffolk Coast and Estuaries Community Conference 2012, at Thorpeness Country Club.

Speakers at the Suffolk Coast and Estuaries Community Conference 2012, at Thorpeness Country Club.

Gathered landowners, society members and local councillors heard from experts and engineers on the subject of curbing erosion and the establishment of the Suffolk Coast Forum – set up in February to succeed the Suffolk Coast Futures group and work with a variety of authorities and organisations.

The conference opened with forum chairman and county councillor David Ritchie’s introduction to the challenges Suffolk faces in protecting its coastline from further retreat. Mr Ritchie referred to King Canute’s vain bid to repel the tide, adding: “The power of nature is always greater than man. Land has always been, and will continue to be, lost to the sea.”

Mr Ritchie was followed by the Environment Agency’s regional flood and coastal risk manager, Jim Hutchison, who said East Anglia faced some of the biggest challenges of any part of the country, with many homes at risk of flooding. He recalled the disaster of 1953 that killed hundreds and left thousands homeless, and described the work done since and the targets now in place to ensure management of a similar event.

But, with revenue taking a 4.5% hit, Mr Hutchison highlighted the importance of cautious spending, saying: “There’s never going to be enough funding to carry out all the work we want to on the coast.

“Under its new approach, the Government is trying to share money around and look for local funding to bridge the gap.”

Professor Mike Cowling, the Crown Estate’s chief scientist, then considered our constantly changing coastline and described his role within the agency, which manages most of the seabed and around half of the UK’s foreshore.

Vice chairman of the forum and district councillor for coastal management, Andy Smith, then told the conference of the strategic approach to managing Suffolk’s coast and estuaries. He said: “Funding is our biggest challenge, but working together we can do so much more. We can reduce cost by using local knowledge and resources. We must maximise our share of limited resources.”

Mr Smith added that Suffolk was leading the way nationally and had a strong case for the future.

Local groups also took the opportunity to highlight their work to ensure a future for people and wildlife in the face of difficult changes along the coast and estuaries.


Jerry Bernes response
“Land has always been, and will continue to be, lost to the sea.” As Mark Twain wrote, “Even a burglar could have said that better.” Indeed, to totally ignore that the sea both takes and gives to the shoreline is to ignore basic coastal processes. We must work with nature’s powerful forces if we are to protect our coastlines from what is now mostly man-made erosion.

Man influences erosion by trapping sediments upstream in dams, by altering natural watercourses by channelling/dredging, by creating artificial canyons far our to sea to provide for deep draft vessels to access our harbours (and which flume naturally nourishing sediments out of the littoral zone), by mining the offshore for sediments changing the seabed topography and altering current/wave energies and altering our climate such that sea levels are rising and storm are intensifying. Yet, many of our citizens are fed the falsehood that all erosion is natural and we should just except it — that is, as long is there is no profit to be made in “protecting” our shorelines with costly and temporary measures.

The method I described to you, Mr. Ritchie, in my earlier message is the antidote for such measures as well as a comeuppance for dotes who continue to say such nonsense that we can do nothing good to mitigate this man-made loss of our coastal resources. Holmberg Technologies’ methods prove we can restore our coastal lands and the ecosystems these sustain by working with natural forces and materials rather than against these. Holmberg’s website, www.erosion.com, illustrates its ability to do just that.

In 2005, a UK engineering firm was asked by the Environmental Agency to review Holmberg as an innovative, though proven, environmentally sound and sustainable method of mitigating Norfolk’s coastal erosion. Though it found “advantages” to Holmberg Technologies, it questioned –contrary to the university research and the empirical evidence — its longevity and the possibility of down-drift erosion. The engineering firm recommended more study. This engineering firm does a considerably number of coastal protection projects in the UK including one in the area where Holmberg was being considered. Afterwards, it was reported that this project caused “…major problems down the coast, where dune systems have been eroded almost completely…” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2006/oct/09/ethicalliving.lifeandhealth). Similarly in the US, the Corps of Engineers and its contractors have fought to prevent this technology from being even being demonstrated to protect the profits of its consultants and contractors.

In many ways we are losing our coastlines to greed –and not just a little self-imposed ignorance. To better counter this, the citizens of Flagler Beach, Florida fought for a Holmberg project for its beach by developing an excellent and informative website as to Holmberg’s work and the other methods being considered (www.saveflaglersbeach.com). Making such information available to those who participated in the Thorpeness gathering and other citizens as well may help you save your coastlines.

Jerry Berne


MARINET Comment:

Perhaps we need do no more than quote the lyrics in the song about painter Vincent Van Gogh, ‘Starry starry night’. “They’re not listening, they’re not listening now, perhaps they don’t know how” and “They’re not listening, they’re not listening still, perhaps they never will”

Please do share this

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS