Delight at MP's fight to save coast

Coastal erosion campaigners have hailed the efforts of a cross-party group of Norfolk MPs as “a whole chunk of England standing together saying we cannot let Norfolk go.

Coastal erosion campaigners have hailed the efforts of a cross-party group of Norfolk MPs as “a whole chunk of England standing together saying we cannot let Norfolk go.”

Jim Bratton of Scratby's coastal erosion group said Great Yarmouth MP Tony Wright had put the case for his stretch of coastline well at a commons debate broadcast live on Tuesday.

Mr Wright was one of a group of MPs who pledged to fight on after failing to win reassurances or concessions from the government over the mooted surrendering of 25 square miles of the county to the sea.

Environment minister Phil Woolas promised to visit the threatened area between Eccles and Winterton, but he glossed over an invitation by MP Norman Lamb officially to remove the highly controversial “worst case” sea defences option put forward by Natural England.

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And he stressed in the Commons that “it is not the government's policy to give compensation for the impact of floods and coastal erosion”.

Although Mr Bratton was disappointed by Mr Woolas's “unsympathetic” response he was heartened by the debate which took local concerns to the highest level, adding “Mr Woolas can now be in no doubt about the widespread strength of feeling gathering pace.”

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He said: “Tony put his point across very well about the flooding in Great Yarmouth and the erosion at Scratby. Afterall he has a coastline to worry about too although the emphasis has been on the whole of Norfolk. It was an opportunity for our area to be highlighted as well. With all but one of the Norfolk MPs saying the same thing it has to be a step forward because everyone is together.

“It's a whole chunk of England standing together all speaking up and saying the same thing - we cannot let Norfolk go.”

Mr Woolas added that there was an obligation to answer the question of whether compensation should be provided “if damage has been caused by climate change rather than the natural processes of erosion or flooding”. But he did not answer it himself.

Figures released to the Countryside Alliance under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that at least 14,434 new homes in the East are planned for construction on flood plains or in flood risk areas.

Forty local authorities in the East responded to the Freedom of Information request. A total of 293,542 new homes are planned of which 14,434 are in flood risk areas. The research followed the Government's admission, last year, that it “does not collect centrally the number of houses planned for construction on flood plains”.

A spokesman said: “Climate change and the increasing frequency of major flooding have led the Government to address the risk of flooding for new development through the planning process. This does not, however, address the legacy of development proposed before the new policy.

“The Government needs to carry out a full audit of housing proposed for flood risk areas. The alternative is a time-bomb of thousands of un-insurable homes in the East under constant risk of flooding.”

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