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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living