Suffolk tidal surge: Work starting on defences 10 years on

Suffolk tidal surge: Work starting on defences 10 years on

  • Published
Image caption,
The Crown pub and the B1069 at Snape were flooded by the River Alde in 2013

Communities affected by a huge tidal surge in 2013 are finally to see work starting to reduce the chances of it happening again.

Hundreds of homes and business along the Suffolk coast were hit by by gale force winds and a tide that was 6ft (1.82m) above the normal maximum.

The Environment Agency said the surge was “worse than the 1953 floods”.

A £12m flood defence project gets under way next year.

Large wave crashing to the shore in front of housesIMAGE SOURCE, ALAMY
Image caption,
The tidal surge ravaged the Suffolk coast and forced the evacuation of dozens of homes.

The surge swept across the north Suffolk coast during the night of 5 December 2013, leaving devastation and disruption in its wake.

Witnessed described how it sounded “like an express train” rushing towards them.

Several rest centres were set up for people who were evacuated from their homes while trains were cancelled and roads closed.

The banks of an estuary, with a two-storey maltings building to the right.IMAGE SOURCE, SHAUN WHITMORE/BBC
Image caption,
The Suffolk coastline, which includes the famous Snape Maltings Concert Hall, will be protected by the first phase of the project

A plan to make the 27 miles (44km) of wall along the River Alde and Ore estuary more resilient was already being drawn up when the surge happened, but it took until 2016 for it to be officially approved.

The actual implementation of the first phase of the plan was only given the go-ahead in January 2023 after a mixture of private and government funding was secured.

Man with short light-brown hair wearing a blue raincoat stands alongside the estuaryIMAGE SOURCE, SHAUN WHITMORE/BBC
Image caption,
The project delivery engineer Pete Roberts said the ground level along the coast would be raised by up to half a metre

The first phase of the work will take three to four years and cover a 5.9 mile (9.5km) stretch of coastline from Snape to Aldeburgh.

Pete Roberts from the Water Management Alliance said: “The work is about making these existing flood defences even stronger so it’s about making them survivable in tidal flood events in the future.

“We’ll be raising the ground by up to half a metre in places to give us that extra protection level and slackening off the back faces to make the water slow down as it goes over.”

The following phase of the project from Aldeburgh to the sea at Shingle Street will cost about £20 million.

Man with short white hair wearing a scarf with coloured stripes and a raincoatIMAGE SOURCE, SHAUN WHITMORE/BBC
Image caption,
Tim Beach from the Alde and Ore Community Partnership said he was confident funding would be found for the second phase
Image caption,
The tidal River Alde runs alongside the Snape Maltings complex of concert halls, shops and pub

Tim Beach, chairman of the Alde and Ore Community Partnership, knows getting the funding for the next stage will not be easy.

He said: “It’s a great deal of money but I’m sure we can find it as we’ve proven with the upper estuary, we found the money.

“I’m sure we’ll pull this together over the next six or seven years.”

For further information
please contact
Alison Andrews,
Temporary Honorary Secretary on  

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