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Long term solutions to coastal erosion on Pakefield's cliffs may not be in construction until 2025, new Coastal Partnership East report says



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Construction on longer term solutions to coastal erosion on the cliffs at Pakefield may not be ready until 2025, according to a new report.

A review of the shoreline management plan is currently underway which will determine future plans.

The plan has three levels - no active intervention, hold the line (where current defences are maintained) and managed realignment.

The beach cliffs at Pakefield which have suffered significant erosion since 2019. Sandbags and concrete slabs are among the temporary measures. Picture: East Suffolk Council
The beach cliffs at Pakefield which have suffered significant erosion since 2019. Sandbags and concrete slabs are among the temporary measures. Picture: East Suffolk Council

Under current plans, the Pakefield cliffs area has a measure of no active intervention up to 2105, but Coastal Partnership East said erosion since 2019 has 'exceeded all predictions'. A review of the plan has been commissioned.

A series of potential options have been put forward for future assessment, but an update to East Suffolk Council last week confirmed that while temporary measures had been put in place 'any scheme would not be in construction until 2025 and the temporary measures cannot be guaranteed to hold up under weather and tidal events'.

Coastal Partnership East's report said: "The recent erosion seen at Pakefield since 2019 has exceeded all predictions. There are now four clifftop properties south of Arbor Lane that are at risk of being lost to erosion in the near future and the caravan park have already rolled back static vans and lost concrete bases.

"To fully understand the future risks and look at possible management options for the frontage, between All Saints Church and Pakefield Hall, Coastal Partnership East on behalf of East Suffolk Council need to monitor coastal change and thoroughly investigate the cost, implications, and timescales of possible short and long-term solutions and whether they are technically, environmentally, and financially feasible.

"The need to consider the management of this area also coincides with a national shoreline management plan refresh.

"Funding has been successfully secured from central Government enabling contractors Mott McDonald to assist in the development of short and longer term solutions, reviewing the shoreline management plan and developing an options appraisal study, leading to a preferred option, outline design, planning and short form business case for Pakefield."

Options for further assessment include regrading the cliffs to lessen how steep they are, offshore dredging to widen the beach, relocating properties further inland, placing rock-filled cages known as gabions or rock formations at the bottom of the cliff and establishing groynes with additional sand and shingle.

Other possibilities already ruled out include timber revetments, relocating beach material from Benacre Ness, groynes without fresh sand and shingle and raised sand dune levels.

East Suffolk Council said £45,000 of emergency short term works over the last two winters does 'provide some reduction in the risk of erosion to the most vulnerable areas', and featured concrete slabs aligned at the bottom of the cliffs.

Further public consultation on future plans is planned for 2022.