Minsmere Nature Reserve protected from flooding
Minsmere Nature Reserve is the RSPB’s flagship nature reserve on the Suffolk coast. The site has 3km of sea defences to protect around 900 hectares of land, including 246 hectares of Natura 2000 habitat which is protected under European legislation. The Site is also a Ramsar site, SSSI AONB, has part of a heritage cost and has an ancient monument located there.
Minsmere lies on one of the UK’s fastest eroding coastlines making the freshwater habitats vulnerable to rising sea levels and potential salt water flooding; the project was driven by the environmental need to protect the site from future flooding.
Previous sea defences have suffered in recent years, notably in December 2005, November 2006 and 2007 when storm surges caused damage to the dunes resulting in localised flooding. The project, led by the Environment Agency, will ensure that Minsmere will be protected from a 1-in-10 year flooding even for the next 50 years.
To identify the preferred solutions the following had to be undertaken: a coastal modelling study, a freshwater drainage study and a review of the current defences and assets. Along with these a sustainability appraisal of the project and the available options/solutions were conducted. Following consultation with stakeholders and community groups, the preferred option was to adapt the site and defences to coastal change.
The preferred option involved strengthening and rebuilding the North Wall and to build between the existing dunes and secondary sea defence to the south of the North Wall.
10 years after the project started, the work on the site commenced in July 2011. For the duration of the works the nature reserve continued to be open to the public.
The work was completed this February and has been a success. Phase 2 of the project is to look at the Minsmere sluice.