Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Tuesday, 8 April 2008 16:20 UK

Volunteers fix estuary flood dam

Volunteers piling sandbags at Tinkers Marsh dam
Local volunteers took two days to repair the Tinkers Marsh dam

Volunteers have finished repairs to a dam on the Blyth Estuary in Suffolk.

The dam was breached by storm surges last November. Campaigners say the Environment Agency has since refused to carry out repairs.

Over 2,000 sandbags had to be filled at Walberswick Quay and taken up river in small boats, also provided by locals from Southwold and Walberswick.

The Environment Agency said it would not have been economical to fix the dam with public funds.

Campaigners say the dam will help save the area from the Environment Agency's "abandonment policy" for the area.

'Gun to heads'

Local landowner Andrew Blois said: "By sealing this breach we have removed the gun that was being held to our heads by Defra, and now we have the time and space in order to properly contemplate the future of our estuary and community."

Protesters form a human 'SOS' at Walberswick
Locals recently protested against the "abandonment strategy"

Dr Charles Beardall, area manager for the Environment Agency, said of the Tinkers Marsh dam: "All credit to them for taking responsibility and investing their time and money in this, but the difference is our money is public money. They are just buying back a few more years."

Dr Beardall also pointed out that the agency has spent money on other walls in the estuary.

However, Mr Blois said: "This is not about protecting six houses in Walberswick as the Environment Agency claim, or 100 acres of marshland. This is about preserving a local tourist economy worth 25 million a year."

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