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29 October 2014

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You are in: Suffolk > Nature > Coast > > Suffolk's sea defences

Felixstowe south prom May 2006

Suffolk's sea defences

As £7m of work is carried out in Southwold, the south prom at Felixstowe starts to collapse. The local authority is providing emergency work but says the government must give the town more money for a long-term scheme.

It's been predicted for months (even years) and on Friday 19th May 2006 the south promenade at Felixstowe cracked open.  Rocks were dumped on the beach the morning after to try and prop up the sea wall.


It's known that the beach is being washed away - exposing the foundations of the sea front and earlier this year a £10m government scheme was due to begin, but was then cancelled.

The Shore Break cafe on the prom has been forced to close.  Owner Steve Bloomfield is worried about his livelihood: " It's only in the last two weeks that we were given a guarantee by the council that we were secure for the summer so we stocked up and bought a new freezer.  Now we're clearing out just ahead of a bank holiday weekend which would be one of the busiest of the year."

Felixstowe with emergency rocks

Felixstowe with emergency rocks

"We had an inkling that the problems were on their way, but you just get more and more angry and you think somebody, somewhere is to blame."

The Environment Agency was to contribute £5m to the work until the rest of the money failed to materialise.

Suffolk Coastal councillor Andy Smith says it's the government's fault: "We can carry out short-term measures but it's a complete waste of money.  We need an extra £5m from the government because the council can't afford it.  Out total annual spend is only £12m."


Further up the Suffolk coast in Southwold, up to £7m is being spent on the sea defence which has closed the beach from the south of the town up to the end of the prom just before stopping at Easton Bavants.  Parts of the beach and prom are closed while the work is being carried out.

Work on the beach (which is a joint project by Waveney District Council and the Environment Agency) should be finished by the summer and work will then be carried out at the Botany Marshes to the south of the town.

Dumper at work in Southwold

Sea defence work in Southwold

King Cnut

The Southwold defence work's northern end stops just short of Easton Bavants - once the most easterly point of Britain until erosion meant Lowestoft took that honour.

The Environment Agency is in dispute with householder Peter Boggis, who's constructed at extra bank of earth and sand in front of the natural cliff.  He says it's to protect the sandy cliff against the waves, and causes no harm.  The Agency says he needs their permission to carry on with his work.  (Watch Mr Boggis' BBC Video Nation film by clicking on the link on this page).

Easton Bavants clifftop

Easton Bavants with cliff and sandbank

The Environment Agency doesn't have a policy fixed in stone.  They say priorities are changing all the time - some parts of the coast will be protected while some others where there are no human settlements will be allowed to erode.

With a limited amount of government money, local authorities across the country are finding they have to compete for a slice of the coastal protection pie.  Felixstowe says it now has a clear case.

last updated: 16/07/2008 at 11:13
created: 23/05/2006

Have Your Say

Should we allow parts of the coast to erode? Which parts should be protected?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Roger Edward Doran
I live at Felixstowe and these comments relate to Felixstowe.In my opinion the coastal errosion is caused by two main contributary factors !.Ship wake.and2.Dredging of aggrgates from the Shipwash Bank.1. it is amatter of fact that waves generated by ship wake is of a trochoidal shape as distinct from the wind generated wave whic are of a sinusiodal shape.It is amatter of fact that whilst all waves of whatever type are capable of causing erosion, trochoidal waves are much more destructive than sinusoidal waves due to the steeper angle of the wave face.As felixstowe is a port with many ship movements many by some of the worlds largest container ships,it follows that our beach is uner almost non stop onslaught by waves of this type.Interestingly the revenue from local taxation on the Port of Felixstowe does not get paid into the local district Council but is remmitted direct to Crntral Govt. thus depriving us of the wherwithal to pay for the repairs and remedial measures.It is in the financial interest of Central Goct. to starve the project of fundsand ignore the problem.on2. Ihave direct experience through having owned and operated inshore fishing boats that the of-lying banks have a dramatic effect on reducing the height of the swell which reaches our part of the coastline particularly when the wind lies in the north-east which is our most exposed quarter.The banks are continually being dredged for aggregates for which purpose the gravel companies have to purchase licencesfrom central Govt.The effect of the dredging is to reduce the height of the banks and allow more severe waves to reach the coastline.I feel that the local comunity is badly served in this by Central Govt. and it would be agood thing all round if they were exposede for the mealy mouthed hypocrites which they are inasmuch as they bleed resources from the locality but then refuse to pay to put right the damage their policies have caused.Roger Doran

diddy thsifart
I think there should be sea defences every where!

Dave P
Unfortunately, living on an island, we have to accept that coastal erosion is inevitable.

doesnt tell you what sea defences are called

Kevin Cheetham
Sadly nothing is forever. Coastal erosion is part of the natural evolution of the earth, as is climate change. If we choose to build properties on the coast then we have to accept the consequences and not expect someone else to pay millions of pounds to bail us out.

Bernard Price
The Council sound so alarmed but people outside Felixstowe Should know (a) The same council, Suffolk Coastal District Council, gave planning permision to a developer to build housing on the seafront only yards from the spot where the promonade is crumbling away. (b) It is the council's own land GIVEN to the developer in exchange for some development of the seafront. (c) The planning permision requires flood prevention work hence the desperation to get the work done. (d) It is the same area that claimed so many lives in the floods of 1953 which our councilors said will only happen statistically one in 200 years.

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