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Council: How we'll protect Southend from the sea
8:00am Monday 11th June 2012 in Local News
RISING sea levels could change the entire face of Southend’s seafront over the next three decades.
That is the grim prediction from council chiefs as they draw up multi-million pound plans to keep the town safe from flood waters.
The Echo revealed last week Southend Council had proposed increasing the height of some seawalls by as much as a metre and bulking up beaches with hundreds of tonnes of sand and pebbles.
Today, we take a closer look at bosses’ early ideas about how to protect thousands of homes from the rising waters.
The changes are likely to be most noticeable in the tourist hotspots of City Beach and Western Esplanade.
At the former, bosses envisage dramatically increasing the size of Jubilee Beach by importing sand and pebbles.
They plan to create an extra five metre plateau, beyond the reach of normal waves, to form a buffer zone between waters and the existing seawall.
At the eastern end of Western Esplanade, near the pier, a new 1.5 metre wall could be built between the road and the promenade to provide an extra layer of protection.
At the opposite end, a new 1.5 metre wall could be built behind the existing barrier for the same purpose.
Further east, plans have already been drawn up for a £2million embankment on Shoebury Common, which could be completed as early as next March.
If the idea is signed off after a public consultation, council chiefs want to use soil from the cliff stabilisation scheme above Western Esplanade to create the new barrier.
Further east, an extra 1.2 metres could be added to the seawall at the Old Ranges, in Shoebury.
Finally, at East Beach, a new metre-high wall could be built between the beach and the promenade.
The plans, if they become a reality, would cost more than £192million to implement, with much of the work carried out by 2040.
However, council bosses estimate they could prevent damage to property and roads worth up to £1.6billion – as well as people’s lives – if a catastrophic flood did occur.
Council chiefs commissioned specialist firm Black & Veatch to predict what flood defences would be needed to protect the town in the face of global warming.
With estuary sea levels predicted to rise by up to 90cm by 2060, Southend is among the most vulnerable places in the UK.
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