Dingle Marshes, Suffolk. View across saltmarsh towards sandymount covert. 12/98

At the mercy of the sea - Dingle Marshes

Scott Paterson, who worked as our Inner Forth Project Officer, recalled dramatic flooding at Dingle Marshes RSPB reserve.

Breaching the barrier

"In November 2007, a combination of high tides and a tidal surge flowing down from the northern North Sea resulted in dramatic flooding on parts of the coast of Eastern England.

This wasn’t the first time this part of the world had witnessed flooding on this scale, but on this particular occasion the effects were more dramatic.

At Dingle Marshes the grazing marshes and freshwater reedbeds are protected from the sea by a natural shingle ridge which has in the past been re-enforced by the Environment Agency by bulldozing shingle to form a barrier.

On this occasion, as has happened in the past, the sea breached the shingle ridge in several places and completely flooded the adjacent grazing marshes and overtopped the wall which protects the freshwater marsh. The effect on the landscape was dramatic with sea water surging inland for almost 2 kilometres and roads and footpaths closed.

It’s difficult to say what the effect will be on wildlife. The incursion of salt water will certainly change the ecology of the local area.

Vast amounts of shingle have been moved around and fish were certainly killed in the freshwater reedbed which will now have an increased level of salt in the water.

As it happens, in the weeks preceding the breach we were surveying the fish populations, so we have a baseline to monitor the effects in the future."

Taking precautions

"We can protect the marshes to a limited extent and did our best to take precautions before the breach occurred.

Having moved to this area in June 2006, I have now witnessed two serious flood events - the effects of climate change are becoming ever more apparent it seems.

We will do our best to manage this area in the future and have put contingency plans in place, but I fear I’ll see more flooding on this stretch of the coast."

Scott Paterson, previously an RSPB Inner Forth Project Officer.

Lakenheath Fen