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New ideas mooted to protect coast

PUBLISHED: 09:38 23 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:48 30 June 2010

BUY-to-let schemes for cliff-top houses and the potential relocation of businesses are among the ideas being put forward as part of a multi-million pound project to protect communities living around the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.

BUY-to-let schemes for cliff-top houses and the potential relocation of businesses are among the ideas being put forward as part of a multi-million pound project to protect communities living around the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.

East of England minister Barbara Follett joined coastal councillors and environmental experts at the second Coastal Initiative Conference yesterday to find out about the projects which are being funded by nearly £5m of government grants.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) awarded money at the end of last year to local authorities in North Norfolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney to push forward with projects to find out how communities can adapt to the impacts of erosion and coastal change.

Now the different schemes, which are part of a government-funded programme called Pathfinder, are taking shape in a bid to address the unique problems being faced by those living on the east coast.

Karen Thomas, a coastal advisor for the Environment Agency, said that options being considered to mitigate the effects of erosion included councils buying some cliff-top homes and leasing them back to the villagers, so that people do not lose all of their savings, and relocating some businesses to keep them economically viable.

The Pathfinder projects will also encourage councils and villagers to work together to find options which suit the individual needs of each place and its inhabitants.

She said that the lessons learned in East Anglia will be used in the future to help other threatened areas. “Up until now we've always wanted to be able to give people a set of solutions for their problems. These Pathfinders allow us to test out planning, education, community and funding ideas, so they're a huge learning opportunity,” she said.

Addressing yesterday's conference in Ipswich, Mrs Follett: said: “I am glad that the Pathfinder schemes are coming together now that we have the resources available to us. This will allow us to come up with a 'tool kit' of possible solutions so that for any situation, there are options which have been shown to work.”

North Norfolk District Council was awarded a £3m grant in December, which is being spent on protecting vulnerable infrastructure, including the cliff top footpath at Cromer's western end, the Pilgrim Shelter at Trimingham and the coastguard hut, car parks and footpaths in Happisburgh.

The £290,000 awarded to Great Yarmouth Borough Council is being focused on a community-led project in Scratby and Waveney District Council's £1.5m will be used in part to ensure the future use of the beach at Corton and to look at possible relocation options for villagers in Easton Bavents, near Southwold.

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