Saturday, December 6, 2008

Tide turns in favour of DIY sea barrier

The Independent (UK): A pensioner won a major victory in the battle to save his house from falling into the sea after a High Court judge ruled that a conservation agency could not prevent him from maintaining his own DIY coastal sea defences. The judge ruled that a decision by Natural England to allow the fossil-bearing cliffs near his home to continue to erode "for scientific reasons" was unlawful. Peter Boggis, 77, from Easton Bavents, Suffolk, has spent years building his own coastal defences to prevent his home and more than a dozen others from falling into the sea.

The High Court gave the agency, formerly English Nature, the right to appeal against the decision. In the meantime the retired engineer is banned from resuming work to protect the homes. Gregory Jones, appearing for Mr Boggis, warned: "There is a property only 10 to 16ft away from the edge of the cliff. Justice delayed may be justice denied in this case," he said.

The judge, Mr Justice Blair, agreed: "I think it is in the interests of those whose homes are threatened that the sooner this matter is brought on the better."

Natural England wants to let the cliff erosion caused by the North Sea to occur naturally because it exposes stratas of soil and rock bearing fossils for scientific study. Two years ago it declared the area a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) but Mr Boggis – who had already built his own coastal defences – is challenging the legality of the move at a personal cost of tens of thousands of pounds....

Coastal erosion of sea cliffs at Happisburgh, Norfolk,UK. Shot by © Andrew Dunn, whose work can be found at:, Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

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