PLANS to spend £400million on boosting the Southend borough’s flood defences have been given the green light.

Southend councillors agreed the plan yesterday after being told rising tides threatened homes and business over the next 100 years.

A cabinet report to councillors described the current sea defences, such as the sea wall, as ‘ageing’.

It outlined how once works begin to boost the defences, locals could suffer from obstructed sea views, noise and dust.

Damage to nationally protected habitats and marine life will also be compensated with the council creating new wildlife habitats.

The report read: “It is accepted that some proposals may be difficult to implement.

“In these situations, careful consideration of defence locations will be needed, as will consultation with affected frontages and/or the public.”

Engineering work will be divided into five zones from Two Tree Island to Shoebury, separated into Two Tree Island, Old Leigh, the Cinder Path to Three Shells beach, Three Shells to Shoebury Old Ranges and East Beach.

Previous proposals to build a 7ft high seawall across Shoebury Common were dropped following a concerted campaign.

Funding for the improvements will come from various Government agencies and businesses – with £24million needed in the first four years.

The report said: “It is also accepted that achieving contributions from major beneficiaries of projects, notably Network Rail and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), may be challenging but should be vigorously pursued.”

Councillors were told the ‘form of construction, defence alignment and other specific details will all be determined through a more detailed defence specific study’.

Council leader John Lamb said: “If areas were wiped out by flooding, we would suffer terribly.” Councillors welcomed and approved the plan subject to Environment Agency backing.