CAMPAIGNERS are calling on environment bosses to suspend plans to install new flood defences near a village.

The final designs for the project are close to being completed and will be unveiled to the public in the coming weeks.

The Environment Agency is aiming to build a small dam along the River Blackwater, near Coggeshall, and create a flood storage area on nearby land.

Critics argue the scheme is unnecessary and many in Coggeshall believe it will cause more harm to the landscape.

Plans to hold public events showing the final designs have been abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the Environment Agency is now facing calls to halt the proposals for the flood defences.

Coggeshall district councillor Nick Unsworth said: “I understand why the drop-ins have been cancelled, but there are a lot of questions that still need answering.

“That can’t be done online. People want to speak to someone face-to-face so they need to stop progressing these plans.

“We have had a significant amount of rainfall over the winter, but there has been no flooding in the village.

“The reality is this scheme will only protect a small number of homes and even people living in them, who have been flooded before, are objecting to the plans.

“It seems like they are ignoring residents completely and just ploughing ahead with it.”

The Environment Agency insists it has taken on board comments made by residents, Witham MP Priti Patel and Coggeshall Parish Council during a previous public consultation.

A spokesman said the cancelled drop-in sessions would have been for ‘information only’ and the public will get another chance to make comments about the proposals at a later date.

He said: “The drop-in events in March and April were planned to allow us the opportunity to show members of the public how the design of the scheme has evolved following the public consultation event and online questionnaire last year.

“The information, which will be available online soon, gives details of the minor changes we have made since last year’s consultation, which will be submitted with the planning application.”

He added: “The application is due to be submitted in summer 2020, subject to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Once registered, the public can make comments on the design via their local parish council or to Essex County Council as part of the normal planning application consultation process.”

It is estimated the flood defence scheme will cost in the region of £8 million and will be partially funded by Blackwater Aggregates, which runs Bradwell Quarry.