A ROW between the Environment Agency and a property developer erupted last month over sea defences for a Cornish seaside development.
Developer Ampersand expressed surprise that the EA objected to the scheme at Carlyon Bay after two years of close consultation with officials over the design.
The EA has lodged a formal objection with Restormel Borough Council over plans to build a 1.3km long wave return wall along the beach. This will defend Ampersand's planned £200M residential and leisure complex on the beach.
Ampersand has permission to build a sea wall offering 1 in 30 year storm protection and had already redesigned the defence in response to earlier concerns by the EA. These modifi ations included adding the wave return wall and reprofiling the beach.
But EA planning and corporate services manager Mike Robins wrote to the council in April objecting to the scheme and expressing concerns about its sustainability.
The agency questioned the ability of the design to withstand a one in 200 year event, as climate change is expected to generate increasingly severe storms.
Ampersand construction director Tim Renwick said: 'This has come as a complete surprise. We have spent two years discussing with the agency what we should do and we designed the wall in accordance with its requirements.'
Robins stressed that the EA is not criticising the wall itself. 'We think that it is a pretty good wall but there are better places to build it, ' he said.
The agency has suggested the developer moves the wall back by 20m. This would force Ampersand to resubmit a planning application for the whole development.
In another twist, deputy prime minister John Prescott last month ordered the council to withhold planning permission for any plans to beef up the sea defences.
Instead the Government Office for the South West will review the scheme and advise the deputy prime minister whether to call a public inquiry.