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Hope for homes in peril from the sea

PUBLISHED: 11:16 19 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 July 2010

COASTAL communities threatened by the North Sea could be given a reprieve after villagers demanded they be protected.

A shoreline management plan (SMP) is due to be in place by 2010 which will spell out how more than 2,000 homes from Sheringham to Lowestoft will be protected from coastal erosion in the next 100 years.

COASTAL communities threatened by the North Sea could be given a reprieve after villagers demanded they be protected.

A shoreline management plan (SMP) is due to be in place by 2010 which will spell out how more than 2,000 homes from Sheringham to Lowestoft will be protected from coastal erosion in the next 100 years.

But the scheme will sacrifice many villages to the mercy of the waves because it says it is not practical to protect them.

However, following pressure from residents, Yarmouth Borough Council will modify its SMP to protect the two coastal settlements of Hopton and Scratby instead of consigning them to the sea.

Councillors will also ask ministers to compensate anyone who loses their property because sea defences are given up.

After a series of highly charged public meetings at the end of last year, the council changed its mind about surrendering Hopton and Scratby and will discuss a new SMP tomorrow night which will then be sent to the government for implementation.

So instead of the controversial policy of no active intervention, erosion will be fought off as the impact on businesses and homes is properly explored and accepted by all parties involved, including the possibility of relocation and financial aid.

The council will also demand that ministers provide compensation to home owners or businesses that succumb to waves because sea defences were surrendered up.

Jim Bratten, from the Scratby Coastal Erosion Group, said that he was pleased by the changes to the SMP as it give his threatened community a better chance of surviving the power of the North Sea.

He said: “This leaves the door firmly open for future discussion about coastal erosion.”

The council's SMP will still say that sea defences at Yarmouth, Caister and Gorleston should be held and places such as Winterton, Hemsby and Newport will be left to their own devices.

Pat Gowen, from the Hemsby-based North Sea Action Group, said that if nothing was done to protect his village then much of it would be lost if there was a repeat of the 1953 floods or last November's tidal surge.

Last year Waveney District Council approved its plans for submission to the government and said that sea defences for Corton, near Lowestoft, should be held for the next 20 years only.

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