Campaigners and MP celebrate Camber sea defence completion

Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd visiting the site in 2014 with then exchequer secretary Priti Patel
Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd visiting the site in 2014 with then exchequer secretary Priti Patel

Campaigners are celebrating the opening of the new coastal defence at Camber after 12 years of lobbying which the MP described as a ‘huge positive’ for the area.

The £30m Broomhill Sands defence spans more than 2km from The Suttons to Lydd Ranges and was officially opened on Friday (May 13).

Hasting and Rye MP Amber Rudd said the project, which increases the protection level from one in 20 to one in 200, will do more than just safeguard the village.

“I am delighted by the fantastic news that the Broomhill Sands sea defence built to protect so many homes and businesses from The Suttons to Lydd Ranges has now been completed,” she said.

“Whilst it took a decade to deliver, and involved much hard work as well as disruption to the people of Camber, it should provide flood protection for the next century, as well as regenerating Camber at the same time.

“This is a huge positive development for the area in so many ways.”

Although the Broomhill Sands project took two years to build and even longer to plan, the campaigners who convinced the government to do it can now celebrate after 12 years of lobbying.

Defend Our Coast (DOC) spearheaded the campaign and managed to shift the Environment Agency’s attitude from re-aligning the coastline to holding it, according to spokesman Brigitte Bass.

Re-aligning would have meant losing homes and businesses so DOC fought for the government to invest in protecting Romney Marsh.

Ms Bass heralded the campaign as a true David and Goliath victory and said the most satisfying part was getting the Environment Agency to involve the community.

“It took years to be recognised as stake holders but this has proved that if they [the government] do involve local stake holders, not just the big boys who always leave, and you working together, it makes such a difference,” she said.

“Local people had an input, including the kitesurfers, and the crux of it was getting the community involved.”

DOC made many trips to Westminster to lobby ministers and MPs.

Ms Bass said former Hastings and Rye MP Michael Foster was ‘proactive’ is writing to the Environment Agency to get the campaign noticed.

Although DOC’s campaigners can now retire happy, protecting the marsh is not complete.

Ms Bass echoed calls to finish the sea defences all the way to Folkestone to ensure the marsh’s long-term future.

“All the campaigning has been worth it as it means properties in Camber are protected but if they don’t do the rest of the marsh, the sea won’t just stop it will go around to Lydd,” she said.

“But every step at a time and Broomhill Sands is an example that if you try hard enough you can get it.”

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