The future for Orfordness according to the Suffolk Shoreline Management Plan 2010 and some of its implications
The current Shoreline Management Plan is a gift to the imagination since it opens up the potential for radical change but, tantalisingly, does not elaborate upon the consequences. The timetable for change is broken down to epochs: from now to 2025, from 2025 to 2055 and from 2055 to 2105.
The further away the change the more it will be lost in a mist of speculation. Since what happens or is allowed to happen along the length of Orfordness will have major implications and the consequences hugely uncertain, I decided to play god and make a drawing that enacted the speculative changes according to the predicted timescale.
In doing this I wanted to reflect upon the possible effects and the pre-emptive measures that might have to be undertaken such as a tidal protection to the south of Aldeburgh and a more resilient wall for that part of Sudbourne Marsh opposite Slaughden. Although for me this is a dispassionate exercise, I acknowledge that it is much more than this for those whose homes and livelihoods could be at stake.
My first step was to accept the loss of Orfordness Lighthouse, followed by an exploration of the implications of a controlled breach at Slaughden, the anticipated need for a breakwater to prevent the loss of shingle beach from the front of the southern end of Aldeburgh and Fort Green, reinforcement of the river walls directly opposite the breach and attention to the threat of tidal incursion into Aldeburgh via subsequent failure of the defences to Aldeburgh Marsh.
Although in the first instance I allowed Sudbourne Marshes, opposite a potential breach at Slaughden, to flood, seeing that this would most likely continue south as far as lower Orford and Gedgrave Marshes, I realised that it would be unacceptable and therefore reversed the decision in favour of more substantial river defences at the point of greatest stress. I did however allow Aldeburgh Marshes to flood since they are below sea level with the proviso that the southern part of Aldeburgh would need protection.
The breach at Slaughden would eventually influence the flow south to Orford, with the result of increased siltation. The Butley River would possibly keep the entrance at Shingle Street open, but not so easily navigable since there will be an increased tendency for shingle to accumulate making the entrance narrower and perhaps the frontage of Shingle Street itself less unstable.