Cliff erosion row victory for conservation watchdog

His obsession with bidding the North Sea to retreat has led to him being nicknamed a “latter-day Canute”, the legendary Danish king of England who attempted the same feat.

Today, the pensioner Peter Boggis remained defiant and determined to save his home from the sea, as appeal judges found in favour of conservationists and ruled that the retired engineer must seek planning permission for his DIY coastal defences.

Insisting he was not disappointed by the court’s decision, the 78-year-old said: “It is a stepping point. They have knocked a wall down but I shall stand on the wall and throw bricks at them, with the advantage of being in a higher position than them.”

Since 2002, Mr Boggis has spent tens of thousands of pounds installing his own “soft” sea defences built using 250,000 tonnes of compacted clay soil in front of the cliffs near his home in Easton Bavents, Suffolk. He is adamant that they have already saved four of his neighbours’ properties from crashing into the sea.

“My neighbours matter as well as myself. More than anything this could possibly be used to the detriment of everybody else living on the coast in Britain. It is a battle for everyone against Natural England’s dictatorial organisation that is unwilling to consider humans,” he said.

Last year, the High Court ruled that plans by Natural England to allow fossil-bearing cliffs near Southwold in Suffolk to erode naturally for scientific reasons were unlawful, because it had failed to carry out an assessment of how a nearby wildlife haven might be affected. But today, three appeal judges in London quashed the ruling.

Mr Boggis, whose house The Warren is 302ft (82m) from the cliff edge, has been banned from maintaining his sea defences since 2005, and he said today that only 50,000 tonnes remained. Other properties, the court heard, were much closer, and one had already lost about 3ft of its garden.

“I am not unsympathetic to the plight of Mr Boggis and the other residents who can see the cliff face remorselessly approaching the boundaries of their properties,” said Lord Justice Sullivan, sitting with Lords Justices Mummery and Longmore.

But he added that Mr Boggis’s substantial defence works were “a continuing engineering operation” which required planning permission and consent under the Coastal Protection Act. The only lawful course open to the pensioner, and other members of Easton Bavents Conservation, was to apply for permission and go through the correct planning process.

After the hearing, Mr Boggis said he would only apply for planning permission if it had Natural England’s backing. “I am not walking into the trap of wasting tens of thousands of pounds on a beleaguered planning application that Natural England will convince the council not to give,” he said.

Mr Boggis and Easton Bavents Conservation were ordered to pay Natural England’s costs and were refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, but they can still petition the Supreme Court for permission, which he said they would do.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones