PROTESTORS are set to go on the march across land they fear will be “lost forever” because of a proposed flood defence scheme.

The Environment Agency plans to dig up 13 million tonnes of sand and gravel near Cuthedge Lane, Coggeshall, to create a 155-acre flood storage area.

The scheme would also see a clay dam built across the Blackwater River.

The Environment Agency is working on the scheme alongside minerals company Blackwater Aggregates, which operates a large quarry near the proposed site.

Blackwater has agreed to provide £8million of the necessary £9million funding.

But neighbours fear the work will cause “irreparable damage” to Coggeshall’s landscape.

Jo Brindley is a member of Coggeshall Residents Against the Quarry, which is organising a ‘ramble’ around the site to show residents the scale of the plans.

“People don’t have any idea what’s involved here at all,” she said.

“We are talking about massive excavations over an enormous area, tunnels under roads to take trucks out.

“It is going to take 20 years.

“People will walk along the Essex Way and over what will be the quarry.

“The photo doesn’t really convey it, or the scale of it.

“We will walk along footpaths which exist at the moment but which won’t be there because of this work.”

All walkers are welcome to join the group at the starting point at Grange Barn, in Grange Hill, at 9.30am on Saturday, October 19.

For those unable to walk the 1.5 mile route, a community bus will run from the barn from 9.30am, 10am and 10.30am.

An Environment Agency spokesman said the work would be designed to “minimise” the environmental impact and disruption to residents.

“The proposed flood alleviation scheme has been developed to reduce flood risk to properties in Coggeshall, Feering and Kelvedon by storing water upstream,” he said.

“At its nearest point the edge of the quarrying operations will be at least 150m from any residential boundary along Grange Hill, Coggeshall.

“Works in this area of the site are likely to be carried out during years 18 to 20 of the 20 year construction programme.

"There is a rolling restoration programme across the site to ensure the area of open quarry is limited, with land being restored to a more bio-diverse habitat.”