Page last updated at 03:01 GMT, Thursday, 25 February 2010

Village in Suffolk lost to sea in coastal plan


Edward Vere Nicoll said landowners would fight the plans

A village and more than 1,000 acres of land would be lost to the sea if plans laid out in a blueprint for tackling erosion in Suffolk are accepted.

The Shoreline Management Plan for the area calls for the continued defence of major towns and villages from flooding and coastal erosion.

But it also says over the next 30 to 40 years the village of Covehithe may be surrendered to the sea.

Property and historic sites in Easton Bavents and Dunwich will also be lost.

The plan, developed by a group of partners led by Suffolk Coastal District Council and which goes before Suffolk County Council's cabinet next Tuesday, also says:

• Sea defences at Lowestoft, Southwold and Felixstowe will be maintained

• The main area of Kessingland will be protected and the A12 will be defended

• Some land and property will be lost at Pakefield

• The historic village of Covehithe, including its 15th Century church, will be lost to the sea

• About 1,000 acres (400 hectares) of land between Kessingland and Southwold will be lost.

Edward Vere Nicoll, estate manager for The Benacre Estate - which owns a large portion of land at Covehithe and the surrounding area, hit out at the plan.

Local people are all pretty disgusted and seriously worried about it
Edward Vere Nicoll, Benacre Estate manager

He accepted the need for a "managed retreat" of the coast, but not for the wholesale "sacrifice" of large tracts of land and a village.

He said the plan ignored the willingness of landowners to pay for work to help protect the coastline.

"Local people are all pretty disgusted and seriously worried about it," he said.

A report to the council says due to rising sea levels, erosion risk management is a priority.

St Andrew's in Covehithe is threatened by coastal erosion
St Andrew's in Covehithe is threatened by coastal erosion

It recommends the plan be endorsed by the council, but Guy McGregor, portfolio holder for roads, transport and planning, stressed that any final decision is still open for discussion.

"We simply have to engage with communities, which is why it is going before our cabinet committee," he said.

Mr McGregor said that the cost involved in protecting some parts of the coast could be huge.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said shoreline management plans provided a framework for dealing with coastal flooding and erosion risks to people.

"As the east coast has always and will always change, we need to plan now how we are going to deal with the likely changes over the next 100 years, as it is unrealistic to expect that we can maintain the coastline in all places as it is now," the spokeswoman said.

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