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Owner of home threatened by coastal erosion must apply for planning permission

23 October 2009

A retired engineer who is fighting to prevent his home from falling into the North Sea must seek planning permission for his homemade coastal defences, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

The court found in favour of conservation watchdog Natural England, stating that the cliffs near Peter Boggis’ home at Easton Bavents, in Southwold, should be allowed to erode naturally.

The decision quashes a High Court judgment secured by Mr Boggis which ruled that plans by Natural England to allow the cliffs to erode were unlawful because it had failed to assess how a nearby wildlife haven might be affected.

Since 2002, the pensioner has spent thousands of pounds constructing his ‘soft’ sea defences using 250,000 tonnes of compacted clay soil in front of the cliffs to protect his home and the homes of his neighbours.

The 78-year-old has been banned from maintaining the defences since 2005.

Ruling in Peter Boggis and Easton Bavents Converstion v Natural England and Waveney District Council [2009] EWCA Civ 1061, Lord Justice Sullivan said that, although he was “not unsympathetic” to Mr Boggis’ and his neighbours’ situation, the only lawful course open to Mr Boggis and other members of Easton Bavents Conservation was to apply for planning permission and obtain consent under the Coast Protection Act 1949.

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