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New coastline report

PUBLISHED: 05:01 18 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:12 24 February 2010

A STRATEGIC plans needs to be formulated for the management of East Anglia's coastline – in readiness to face the threat of future disasters, according to a new report.

A STRATEGIC plans needs to be formulated for the management of East Anglia's coastline – in readiness to face the threat of future disasters, according to a new report.

The report, Coasting, from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the national Wildlife Trusts organisation, suggests the region lacks a clear plan for coping with natural change and man-made hazards.

"Last year's storms, the sight of oil washing up on East Anglia's beaches and the impending fiftieth anniversary of the east coast floods remind us of the vulnerability of the region's coastline," said Simon Lewis, WWF spokesman.

"There are currently opportunities to make improvements rather than just coast towards the next disaster," he added.

The report suggests that national and regional government should be joining forces to create a more integrated plan for the management of the coastal environment.

It says sea level rise and "clumsy, piecemeal management" lead to the loss of about 250 acres of wildlife-rich saltmarsh from the east and south of England each year.

Building higher and wider concrete coastal defences only displaced and, sometimes, increased the effects of extreme sea conditions.

While essential to protect urban settlements, there were better solutions in rural areas, including managed retreat.

"East Anglia is a low-lying region with an extensive coastline and an important maritime economy, yet it is vulnerable to flooding from rivers and the sea.

"A strategic view of coasts as part of the region's development plans should reasonably be expected," Mr Lewis said.

He called for action on the back of a sustainable development framework adopted 15 months ago by the East of England Regional Assembly.

"The region should be pushing central government for a new Marine Act to enable integrated management of our coastal and marine environment in the future," he added.

The Act would cover a variety of coastal issues including flood defences, the seaworthiness of ships and the development of ports.

Brian Stewart, spokesman for the East of England Regional Assembly, said it was encouraging that its "framework" document was being used by bodies such as WWF to guide their thinking.

"The Assembly has also commissioned research into climate change which will provide authoritative guidance for decision makers in the east of England and will identify actions to be taken now and in the short and medium term," he added.

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