Plants cut to protect sea walls in Essex and Suffolk

Sea walls in Essex and south Suffolk are being cleared of plants to make it easier to check their conditions.

The Environment Agency is removing misplaced shrubs, plants and trees from across the coast.

Officials said it was vital to spot earth slips and damage by animals such as rabbits, foxes and badgers.

Heavy woody growth on defence embankments can also cause drying-out and shrinkage cracks in its structural core, the agency said.

Officials said weakened defences were vulnerable to wave attack and breaches.

Richard Hands, from the Environment Agency, said: "We are sympathetic to people's concerns that our recent work may have seemed quite drastic in places.

"However these raised flood embankments are man-made structures requiring constant management to maintain their ability to protect people and property from flooding.

"We do wish to see vegetation on raised flood embankments but not woody growth."

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