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Is Shoeburyness flood defence going to save us from the sea?
MORE than 100 residents attended a meeting to look at controversial plans for £2.5million sea defences on Shoebury Common.
Southend Council officers unveiled details of their plans to excavate soil from the cliffs slip above Western Esplanade, Southend, to form an embankment alongside reinforced walls on the common.
It is claimed the new defences are needed following Environment Agency warnings about the need to protect homes in the area from rising sea levels.
Andrew Meddle, the council’s head of planning and transport, told the meeting: “The current defences are 60cm below the standard of other nearby defences.
“A breach of the defences could lead to flooding some distance around and lead to disruptions with the blocking up of transport routes.
“If the council does nothing, then there is a good chance the defences around Shoebury Common will be undermined and 500 homes would be put at risk. We can’t let these homes be at risk.”
However, the majority of those at the meeting, hosted by the Shoeburyness Residents’ Association, at St Andrew’s Church Hall, Church Road, Shoebury, criticised the plans.
Ray Bailey, of Parkanaur Avenue, Thorpe Bay, said he believed there was a bigger threat of floods in other parts of Shoebury because of decaying groynes – structures built into a beach to prevent erosion by tides.
He said: “There are three locations at greater risk. These are large parts of East Beach, a strip of MoD land in Shoebury and by Havengore Bridge in Wakering.
“Having looked at the area, I was shocked to see the poor state the groynes are in along the coast along from the common to East Beach. They have been affected by erosion.
“I think there is a disaster waiting to happen there. Surely the soil from the cliffs would be better used at East Beach to improve defences there.”
Richard Atkins, an engineer from Southend Council, said some of the issues brought up were already being addressed.
He said: “At East Beach we are looking at protecting the defences from erosion. We’re trying to engage with the MoD as the Environment Agency wants them to help fund work as it involves their land. It is important to remember we are still in the very early stages of this project and although we have a preferred option, changes could still be made.”
Audience members wanted to see detailed pictures of the plans and they questioned how much the contract signed by engineers Black & Veatch was worth.
A planning application is due to be submitted by the autumn, with a public consultation afterwards.
If approved, the defences could be ready by next March.