Secretary of State approves Felixstowe Ferry – Bawdsey Coastal Footpath route – 5 May 2024

On 5 May 2023 the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced their decision to approve the Natural England (‘NE’) proposals for lengths FFB2 (Sandy Lane, Waldringfield to Kyson Point) and FFB3 (Kyson Point to Wilford Bridge).

Twelve months later (on 3 May 2024) they announced their decision to approve the NE proposals for lengths FFB1 (Felixstowe Ferry up river to Sandy Lane, Waldringfield), FFB4 (Wilford Bridge to Ferry Cliff), FFB5 (Ferry Cliff to Ramsholt) and FFB6 (Ramsholt to Bawdsey Quay).

DEFRA points out that “The right of access to the approved stretch of coast does not come into effect at this stage. Natural England will be working with the local authority to establish any infrastructure works before an Order is made by the Secretary of State under the 2009 Act to bring the rights into effect.”

EA ‘looking for sites to plant riverside trees’ – 30 April 2024

The Environment Agency today issued an invitation to local landowners and community organisations that could be of benefit to the River Deben. They say:

Tree planting along Rivers in Suffolk & north Essex 2024-5
We have some funding for native tree planting along rivers in Suffolk (including parts of Essex within
the River Stour catchment) for 2024-5 and wish to target those lengths of rivers which are likely to
benefit from additional trees and/or scrub.
Planting native tree species along a river can a significant improve water quality through stabilising
the riverbank and reducing sedimentation. Trees also provide much needed shade which helps to
keep rivers cool and improve the habitat for fish and terrestrial wildlife. Shading also helps to control
the growth of excessive emergent vegetation which can choke the channel slowing the flow and
causing siltation.
If you are interested, we would like to walk your stretch of river and discuss options with you. If
appropriate we will come up with some sympathetic planting proposals for your approval. The
funding will cover the material cost of trees and protection and planting costs. The timescales for
planting will need to be between November 2024 and March 2025 so we would aim to walk each
site and draw up any plans during summer and early autumn 2024.

Please click on this link to see the full invitation and contact details

EA analysis shows only one instance of poor water quality at Waldringfield – 14 February 2024

At the East Suffolk Catchment Plan (ESCP) workshop organised by the Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust (ESRT) on 08Feb24, Alison Parnell of the Environment Agency was asked about the outcome of EA’s regular water testing programme at Waldringfield (now that it has Bathing Water status). She explained that the water quality data is gathered regularly, uploaded frequently and is publicly available online. The EA has also prepared a simple handout explaining how to access and interpret the data.

The Bathing Water Regulations 2013 set out the bathing water ‘season’, which runs from 15 May to 30 September each year. The EA is required to test for two types of bacteria, and Waldringfield is sampled twenty times a season. At the workshop, she outlined the results of water testing in 2023, and she subsequently emailed us the EA report on Waldringfield Water Quality .

The report states that an Environment Agency sample taken on 2nd September was high in bacteria, both Escherichia coli (E. Coli) and Intestinal Enterococci. Without this sample, the overall water quality classification would have been ‘Good’ for 2023. On that date, the water levels were particularly high, and the entire beach and intertidal marshland was covered by the tide, leading to potentially worse than usual water quality due to the influx of rotted vegetation and bacteria from wildlife, dogs, or livestock from the rear of the marsh and strand lines. They investigated further using Microbial Source Tracking, and the samples showed evidence for faecal pollution from seabirds, dogs, pigs and some human non-faecal sources.

However, there are many factors that affect water quality, not just these two bacterial strains, and so this analysis by the EA should be considered in the context of other research, such as that by Bill Brammar and David Findley on E. Coli and phosphate levels in the upper reaches of the river.

‘Ground Truths: Local Knowledge and its Ownership’ event scheduled for 10 March 2024

Strengthening Coastal Community Partnership

This year we have again secured financial support from the Environment Agency’s ‘Championing Coastal Coordination’ fund, and we are pleased to invite community organisations from across the Deben Estuary to share their experiences, learning, and engagement at this informal workshop in Woodbridge. This event – a day of short talks, focussed discussion groups, and a networking lunch – will be an opportunity for us as individuals and communities to support and learn from each other.

Drawing on the highly successful beach monitoring project by the Bawdsey and Alderton communities over the past decade, and the creation and continued development of information and action centres across the catchment, we will be exploring how we can collectively expand and contribute to a local forum that enables a healthy exchange of information between the many and varied community groups engaged in projects and campaigns across the entire estuary.

As well as the immediate learning and networking benefits, key insights from the day and the participants will provide valuable input for the new Estuary Management Plan.

RSVP with any specific food requirements by 29 February 2024 to Helene Burningham:

Deben Climate Centre publishes report on water quality in the upper Deben – 09 February 2024

The Deben Climate Centre (a DEP partner organisation) have today published a detailed report on E.coli and phosphate pollution in the River Deben. Written by scientists and local residents Bill Brammar PhD and David Findley PhD, it is the result of more than 12 months of sampling and testing results from 26 locations in the upper, non-tidal reaches of the River Deben.

E.Coli and Phosphate levels in the upper non-tidal reaches of the River Deben: Source: DCC report