Allowing parts of the Norfolk Broads to be flooded by the sea would send out "the right message" to the public about climate change, it was claimed last night.
Conservation groups have met in secret to discuss plans to abandon 15 miles of coastal defences which protect the Upper Thurne and its broads - along with six villages and thousands of homes.
Leaked details of the proposals - discussed in secret by Natural England, the Broads Authority and Environment Agency - have been revealed by The Times.
It quotes extracts of a paper it says was discussed at the meeting, which said: “The broads (Martham, Horsey, Heigham Sound and Hickling) would become inundated by the sea, fen vegetation would be lost. It is likely over time that a spit would develop behind which coastal and intertidal habitats would develop.
“The increasingly unsustainable nature of the Horsey to Winterton frontage beyond the next 20 to 50 years opens up the possibility of realigning the coast as described within this time frame. It can also be argued that by selecting a radical option now, the right message about the scale and severity of the impacts of climate change is delivered to the public.”In the same report Martin George, a member of the Broads Society, said up to an eighth of the broads would be lost if the planned retreat went ahead.
A report on options for maintaining sea defences in the face of climate change is due to be delivered to the government in September.
The Pike Anglers Club fears historic fisheries could be lost. It has launched a petition to save them. By last night hundreds had signed it. Click here to join them.
Click here to read The Times report.