Conversations are ongoing to save Lowestoft’s tidal barrier project, a council leader has said.

The project was halted in late January due to no prospect of government help to address the £124m funding gap needed for its delivery.

Responding to a question from Kate Stott, a member of local climate change advocate group Use Your Voice Lowestoft, East Suffolk Council leader Caroline Topping told Wednesday's full council meeting conversations were ongoing to revive the project.

Lowestoft Journal: East Suffolk Council leader Caroline ToppingEast Suffolk Council leader Caroline Topping (Image: Archant)

She said: “East Suffolk Council had no choice but to hold the works. Conversations have continued with the department for the environment, food, and rural affairs, and the EA in an attempt to achieve this funding and, if achieved, we would look to restart the project.

“However, we also have to be realistic and develop our plans based on the likelihood that this funding will not be forthcoming.”

Lowestoft Journal: A visualisation of the 40m tidal barrier earmarked for Lowestoft.A visualisation of the 40m tidal barrier earmarked for Lowestoft. (Image: East Suffolk Council)

The work’s first phase was completed during 2023 but a £20m shortfall meant the council would not be able to continue with the next stage, due to take up the first half of this year.

Cllr Topping added she had been left disappointed with the project not being mentioned in either the autumn statement or the spring budget speeches delivered by chancellor Jeremy Hunt, despite a business case outlining 100-year economic benefits.

She revealed 1.4 kilometres of temporary defences would be deployed along lake loathing in the event of a tidal surge to work in conjunction with the £28.8m tidal walls.

Cllr Topping said: “While the absence of funding for the barrier is disappointing, it was one of many investments in the future of Lowestoft.

“We will not let this setback define the outlook of the town.”

In January, a Defra spokesman said: "We have been made aware that East Suffolk Council is unable to progress with the proposed Lowestoft Tidal Barrier Project due to cost increases caused by scope changes to the project and inflationary pressures.

"We will continue working with the council and other partners to help them develop a viable and affordable proposal."