Flood risk fears over Arne Moors wetland plans

Arne Moors Image copyright Environment Agency
Image caption About 150 hectares (370 acres) at Arne Moors in Poole will be altered under the proposals

Campaigners say plans to transform an area of wetland in a bid to protect birds and habitats will cause "severe flooding problems" for local residents.

The Environment Agency wants to alter 150 hectares (370 acres) at Arne Moors near Ridge in Poole Harbour, Dorset, to allow more saltwater into the area.

Habitats like salt marshes are being lost due to rising sea levels, it said.

Part of the work in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) includes building a tidal embankment.

Image copyright Mike Pennington
Image caption The work aims to protect wading birds such as Redshanks

Local resident Jill Pollock said: "If they build the sea wall [the water] will have nowhere to go or it will have a massively reduced area to go to, and we cannot see how this water is not going to back up."

Peter Sibthorp, of Ridge Moors Action Group, said the grassland in the area "acts as a natural sponge to drain the moors, and if a sea wall is created that water will not be able to naturally be drained and will cause severe flooding problems for those people in Ridge".

The agency said the plans were in the "early stages" and it was carrying out detailed assessments to mitigate the flood risk.

Image caption Ridge Moors Action Group said the grassland was a "natural sponge" for rainwater

Thousands of birds are expected to be protected by the scheme, including Redshanks, avocets, common terns and sandwich terns, said the RSPB, which is supporting the scheme.

Construction is not expected to begin until 2020.

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