Coastal erosion impact cash 'not enough'

A £10 MILLION fund - set up to help communities adapt to the impact of coastal erosion - has been described as a “fleabite” in terms of addressing the challenges ahead.

By David Green

A £10 MILLION fund - set up to help communities adapt to the impact of coastal erosion - has been described as a “fleabite” in terms of addressing the challenges ahead.

It remained unclear last night whether some of the money would be available to help individual property owners to relocate and whether it would be an annual sum.

Details of the new fund - for use where the building of sea defences is not deemed “appropriate” - are in the small print of the Government spending review published last week.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said yesterday that the money would go to help “long-term development planning, re-location and improved environmental and risk planning”.

The department ruled out the payment of compensation but could not confirm whether or not some of the money might help individual householders - at increased risk of flooding or loss of their homes - to relocate.

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Spokeswoman Beverley Parr said the way the money would be spent was still being developed.

But David Andren , chairman of the Blyth Estuary Group, which is fighting Environment Agency plans to abandon earth bank defences along the estuary, said he thought the amount would be a “fleabite” in the face of the enormous problems ahead.

“It is not going to go very far if that is all there is available nationally,” he said.

Studies by both the Country Land and Business Association and the estuary group had shown the Government was failing to take account of the wider social and economic implications of abandoning sea defences, Mr Andren added.

Peter Boggis, the man responsible for DIY sea defences at Easton Bavents, near Southwold, said the wording around the fund was “very woolly” and he did not expect the local community to benefit.

“I think it is a bit of fluff to confuse the public. The fund has mainly been set up to get the communities in north Norfolk off the Government's back. Most of the money will no doubt go on consultants' fees,” he said.

Environment Agency spokeswoman Rita Penman said the agency was unaware of the details surrounding the new fund.