Saltmarsh Erosion At Quay Lane – Are Ducks Responsible?

Rising sea levels are eroding saltmarsh claim EA(Environment Agency) and NE(Natural England). Here is one place where something else is doing it.

At the north end of Quay Lane, Kirby le Soken there is a tidal pool protected by the Quay.  In the middle of this pool is a saltmarsh island where something has created a hole at one end.



It seems impossible for this hole to have been caused by rising sea levels.

Here is another one, by the shore.




I don’t know what caused this hole but ducks regularly congregate here.



and often sunbathe



It certainly seems possible they are causing these holes





Why Should Anyone Care About Saltmarsh Erosion?

DEFRA has tasked EA with creating 100 hectares of new saltmarsh every year by flooding land.

This was the reason for EA’s plan to knock a hole in the sea wall near Peters Point and why they have actually knocked a hole in the seawall at Rigdons.

The rational is rising sea levels are eroding saltmarsh, these posts give more detail.

What is Saltmarsh?

Holland Haven Sea Wall – Will Tendring District Council Let The Sea Destroy It?

Were Early Saltmarsh Surveys Wrong?

Saltmarsh is regarded as important as it provides

  • a place for young fish to develop
  • a habitat for migrating birds

In this video EA are quoted as answering the question “Do crabs cause saltmarsh erosion?”

It wouldn’t be feasible to carry out detailed enough study to assess the sole affect
of crabs. while other factors are considered, including crab burrowing, sea level rise
remains as it’s focus as its responsibility is to respond to man made activities.


In February 2014 there was an Information Tribunal hearing with me on one side and EA and the Information Commissioner on the other.  The hearing was over EA’s answers (or lack of them) to various FOI requests I had made about EA’s policy of attempting to create saltmarsh in Essex and South Suffolk.

EA did not attend the hearing to be cross examined but Mark Johnson, Area Coastal Manager for East Area of Anglian Region of Environment Agency, gave written answers to my written questions.

I explained that this statement was made in response to a request from a BBC journalist.  It is expected practice that such responses to media will need to be responded to in a matter of a few hours.  We feel that this statement is perfectly reasonable and stand by it.  The word ‘feasible’ is subjective and what is feasible to one person may not be feasible to another.

Am I alone in thinking Mark is really saying we just said the first thing that came into our head?

Anyway he went on.

To assist Dr Shiers, we sought advice from Suffolk Coasts and Heaths Unit (part of Suffolk County Council).  They paid for independent advice on crabs and their contribution to erosion in Deben estuary.  They advised us that the independent consultant concluded that there were a number of factors contributing to saltmarsh erosion and that burrowing crabs were not a significant factor.  We referred Dr Shiers to the relevant Unit to obtain a copy of the report.

Strange.  I had previously made an FOI request to Suffolk Council and they replied they held no information about this.  Perhaps I should try again.

If you watch the video you may decide crab burrowing does play a part in saltmarsh erosion.

But what about the migrating birds?  In Hamford  Water thousands come every year to live and feed.  Are we really to believe they have no effect on the saltmarsh?

Perhaps not.  Natural England conducted a survey of saltmarsh between 1997 and 1998.  For Hamford Water they found (table 9, page 66 of Essex Coastal SSSIs: Assessment of Changes in Extent of Saltmarsh Over the Period 1997 to 2008 VOLUME 1 )

1997    694.82 hectares of saltmarsh

2008   698.13 hectares of saltmarsh.

So there’s no need to knock down sea walls and flood farm land to try and recreate saltmarsh. 

It’s growing back all by itself!

This entry was posted in Climate Change, Coastal Squeeze, EA, Salt Marsh Erosion. Bookmark the permalink.

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