Dear Trust supporter,

We'd like to update you on the current situation of our work to make the flood defences in the estuary more resilient, and in particular the status of the application for Government funding for a substantial element of the costs.

As you may know, to qualify for Government funding the Environment Agency (EA) has to approve a business case as good value for money, able to be completed to budget and within the time stated.

The Trust provided the money through a grant award to the East Suffolk Internal Drainage Board (ESIDB) who put together the large and complex outline business case (OBC) for the first phase of the estuary project (Snape, Aldeburgh and Iken) and this was submitted to the EA in April 2020.

We expected the EA to give us a definitive answer by Autumn 2020.

However, the EA has delayed the decision because they are undertaking an investigation into the stockpiling of clay at Iken. It is fair to say this protracted investigation is delaying any work the ESIDB was due to carry out on our much needed flood defences. In turn we, the AOET, cannot move forward on fundraising or grant awards while this investigation is taking place.

Briefly, the issue at stake is that following the flood surge of 2013 the ESIDB in agreement with the EA was able to use free clay from nearby housing developments to make substantial repairs to the river walls at Snape.

At the same time, a plan was drawn up working with local senior EA officers and farmers, to identify locations for strategic stockpiling of clay around the estuary which otherwise would have ended up in landfill. So, in 2016 stockpiling of clay began in Iken which could be used both as part of the upgrading of the river walls and also quickly used for emergency repairs should another significant surge occur in the meantime.

The EA, however, decided to review this practice and clay deliveries were suspended in June 2018.  This investigation has now been ongoing for nearly three years. We should stress that the clay has been independently tested and found to be clean clay. 

The business case for the work (the OBC) has passed EA technical scrutiny and we have no reason to believe that it won’t result in substantial grants to strengthen the river walls. Frustratingly though, the EA will not give the final green light to the work, nor say when they might do so, while this clay investigation is ongoing. The reason they give is that the ESIDB proposes to use some of the clay from nearby housing developments at no cost. The EA argues that if such free clay cannot be sourced it would jeopardise the financial viability of the project. We believe this is an inaccurate reading of the situation.

The OBC financial proposal, whilst it assumes some free clay deliveries, has already reflected this minor risk within the financial contingency. The ESIDB will either have to buy in clay or win that clay on site. In any case, much of the clay needed will come from enlarging ditches dug behind the river walls. Incidentally, these ditches are a wonderful habitat for water voles, amphibians and birdlife.

We have written to the EA three times to ask when we might get a final answer on the OBC and while we have to respect the processes the EA need to go through, it is frustrating to have to wait, not least as they have been part of the process from the outset.

The ESIDB has kept us informed on this issue and we hope that the whole situation will be concluded soon.  As soon as the outcome is known, we’ll be able to get started on finalising an OBC for Orford, Sudbourne, Butley, Boyton and Chillesford.

In the meantime, the pandemic and this unwelcome delay have put our fundraising efforts on hold, though behind the scenes we’ve been working hard to ensure that, as soon as we get the green light, we will be able to get moving. We think, based on all the evidence we have seen and what we have been told both officially and through unofficial channels, that there is a good chance a significant grant will be made available. This, together with all the valuable donations we have received from people like you, means that we can press ahead with the project to make sure our estuary is protected from floods for the foreseeable future.

Once again, thank you for all the support you give us. Through your efforts, our estuary can continue to be the beautiful, valuable and unique environment we love so much.

The Trustees

Snape, December 2013
If you use social media, please do like/follow/share/ tweet our @SOSestuary posts and help spread the word. There are many people who love the estuary area but are not residents, and social media is a very effective way to reach many of them and encourage them to support the campaign too. The Facebook, Twitter and Instagram icons below will take you directly to our pages.
Copyright © 2018 AOETRUST, All rights reserved.
The Alde and Ore Estuary Trust,
c/o Jenny Hill, 26 Lakeside Avenue,
Thorpeness, IP16 4NH

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The Alde & Ore Estuary Trust · c/o Georgie Wayman · The Crown & Castle, Market Hill · Orford, Suffolk IP12 2LJ · United Kingdom

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