ENCOURAGING PROGRESS FOR ESTUARY CAMPAIGN

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The East Suffolk Internal Drainage Board (ESIDB) presented their costs for the whole estuary upgrade scheme at the drop-in held by the Estuary Partnership at Snape Maltings on 27th February.  The overall cost of £26.9 million includes a £5.1m contingency and covers some 44 kilometers of wall from Snape to Shingle Street, taking 7-8 years to complete. Costs are based on a design of an engineering and environmental standard, which is required to attract Government funding (Flood Defence Grant in Aid).  

The ESIDB, who are responsible for project managing the upgrade, have been advised that potentially £10.5million of Government funds could be applied for in view of the national assets in the Alde and Ore Estuary. These include Snape Maltings and a wealth of internationally recognised wildlife habitats and, in the lower part of the Estuary, extensive grazing marshes which provide fresh water to irrigate this nationally important vegetable growing area.  However, there is no guarantee, even if the Environment Agency (EA) confirm eligibility for Government funding, that it will be allocated.   

With a local economy of over £100million per annum, there is a huge economic and environmental benefit to managing the estuary defences for at least another 30 years, making allowances for both climate change and sea level rise in the future.   Detailed modelling by HR Wallingford (an independent flood risk consultant) has provided a robust model for the estuary since the 2013 surge and confirms that the works can be delivered in line with the Estuary Plan.  This is a pioneering adaptive approach providing over-toppable but resilient defences which will give some 300 homes around the estuary a reduced risk of flooding.

Earlier this week there was a major boost to the campaign when the landowners and farmers had agreed a £3million fund and £1million in cash and pledges. They also agreed, having discussed the issue with The Estuary Partnership and Trust, to withdraw their plans for enabling development as a mechanism for fund-raising for flood defences in the estuary.  

The Alde & Ore Estuary Trust, the charity responsible for local fund-raising, is confident that they have identified how to raise the funds.   Provided Government funding is achieved, it is anticipated that £16 million needs to be raised locally over the next 7 years, of which over £4million has already been secured.  This will include local levy funding, Community Infrastructure Levy, parish precept, local donors, landowners, charities and Heritage Lottery Fund.  

Professor Jane Maxim, Trustee and Funding Group Chairman said “We are delighted that Garfield Weston Foundation has given us a grant of £500,000 of which £100,000 is for match funding.   A further charity application will be made this Spring, and we are now beginning to explore a Heritage Lottery Grant application for the lower estuary.  We are poised to raise considerable funds, but we will need further support, energy and commitment from the local community”.    

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