UK. Environment Agency to seal breaches on Dunwich to Walberswick shingle ridge

Wednesday, 29 November 2006


As a result of considerable consultation, the Environment Agency has agreed, as a one -off project, to seal the breaches on the Dunwich to Walberswick shingle ridge. The work is expected to be carried out as soon as conditions allow and will cost around £20,000.

Sealing the ridge will allow tidal water to drain out through the Walberswick sluice. If the ridge is damaged after this, no further repairs will be undertaken.

The Dunwich to Walberswick shingle ridge, which extends 4km between the two villages, was flattened over a distance of 2km with four breaches on 1 November due to a tide with a 1.75m surge. £23,000 had been spent on reprofiling the ridge just eight weeks earlier. With the onset of climate change, it is expected that we will see more of these high tides.

The flattening and breaches have allowed saltwater into the fresh water marshes, which are a designated site protected by the European Habitats Directive. The flooding of the marsh with saltwater resulted in environmental impacts including fish kills.

The Environment Agency is currently undertaking a Dunwich-Walberswick Study in consultation with the local community and landowners, the results of which are expected in April 2007. The study will identify the Agency's long-term management policy for the frontage. The one-off project to seal the ridge is a short-term solution, as the Agency has concluded continuing to reinstate the ridge each time it is damaged is neither sustainable nor affordable.

When the breaches happened in November, the car park at Dunwich was affected, but no houses at Dunwich were flooded. Agency assessments had previously concluded that the shingle ridge did not offer any meaningful flood protection to properties in Dunwich, and the events in November have confirmed this.

Dr Charles Beardall, Environment Agency Area Manager said, "The flooding in November gives us an indication of the impact that climate change is likely to bring more frequently in the future. We have to target our resources to the highest priority areas in the country. We recognise the concern the local community will have now we have decided to stop bulldozing the ridge, but we can reassure them that their homes will be at no greater risk of tidal flooding."

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 November 2006 )