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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 August, 2003, 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK
Valley flood plans move closer
Cuckmere Valley, East Sussex
The meanders of the Cuckmere Valley are popular with tourists
The Environment Agency has confirmed it will be submitting plans to flood the Cuckmere Valley in Sussex.

It wants to return the man-made valley to its natural state because tidal banks are eroding.

But some local people are worried about the effect the move would have on their homes and businesses and earlier this year called for an inquiry into the plans.

The Environment Agency says the scheme will create a natural landscape rich with wildlife and likely to attract even more tourists than the valley.

The valley was created in 1846 when the Victorians diverted the Cuckmere River by draining the land so it could be used for farming.

Characteristic symbol

It is an area of outstanding natural beauty, a site of special scientific interest and part of a heritage coast.

The valley attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and the river's meanders have become a characteristic symbol of the valley, and are part of the proposed South Downs National Park.

Local firms fear many of the visitors would be put off coming if footpaths disappared under water and the landscape changed to be dominated mud flats.

But the Environment Agency says the flooding scheme would ensure the future of the meanders, because it would restore the natural flow of the river.

Campaigners have called for a public inquiry into the scheme but no plans for one have been announced.

The Environment Agency now says it will be making a planning application this winter for the first phase of the scheme.


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