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Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Friday, 3 September 2010 12:13 UK
Sea wall repairs using a helicopter demonstrated
Helicopter carrying rocks
The helicopter can swiftly transport one tonne of rocks to the damagd sea wall

A farmer on one of the most remote islands in Essex has devised a way of carrying out emergency repairs to flood defences by using a helicopter.

The idea involves flying huge sacks of rock and other material and then dropping them into areas where the current sea wall has been damaged.

Peter Philpot of Potton Island, near Southend, has demonstrated his plan to representatives from over 20 agencies.

Mr Philpot warned some flood defences on the island "were not in good shape".

"I think they were quite impressed, because we were moving one tonne of rocks, dirt and road planings in heli bags across a thousand metres every minute to the sea wall - which was very impressive," he told BBC Essex.

He explained parts of the 6.5 metre sea wall around the Ministry of Defence owned land on the River Roach were close to being breached due to erosion and were in need of repair.

"We should have done a lot of work five or six years ago which hasn't been carried out and some of the sea walls are starting to collapse into the river," he said.

It's definitely a solution that I think we really want to encourage
Karen Thomas, Environment Agency

"There will be another 1953 flood, so let's start preparing for it, it's too late when it's happened."

Mr Philpot hoped his demonstration would further encourage agencies to help farmers ensure potentially disastrous floods would not occur.

"There are a lot of things to be looked into, to make this dirt available for farmers, as opposed to tipping it into holes," he said.

"Essex is running out of landfill holes and it would make a big difference if the sea walls were wider, then we wouldn't have a problem."

Karen Thomas, Essex coastal adviser for the Environment Agency was one of those at the demonstration and was impressed by what she saw.

"It's definitely a solution that I think we really want to encourage," she said.

Rocks piled alongside some damaged sea wall
Rocks and used soil could be dropped to the affected area

"We're working with the National Farmers Union through a local project called 'Managing Coastal Change' and we've currently got a shoreline management plan in development.

"We've asked the NFU and CLA (Country Land & Business Association) and the land owners locally to have some input into that.

"I think realistically with the length of coast we've got, and with the significant areas of rural coastline we've got, we are being very honest with people and saying 'we can't hold the line everywhere for ever at the same standard'.

"So we want to, with landowners, try and find joint solutions that might mean them helping themselves sometimes."




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