Councils call on utility companies to help tackle “ever-increasing burden” of coastal erosion
PUBLISHED: 17:09 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 20:36 08 March 2019
Two councils on the Norfolk coast say they face an “ever-increasing burden” to tackle the impact of coastal erosion and have called on utility companies to help protect the country’s coastline.
Sarah Bütikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council, and Sheila Oxtoby, chief executive of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, have signed a letter to government ministers saying it is “inequitable” that water, electricity and gas companies do not have to contribute to projects managing coastal erosion.
The letter, addressed Rishi Sunak, the secretary of state at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, was sent by the leader of Scarborough Council Derek Bastiman on Tuesday.
He urged the government to incentivise utility companies to help protect the areas which are most at risk.
The document, which has been co-signed by eight coastal authorities, highlights how hundreds of millions of pounds is spent annually by the councils, alongside the Environment Agency and the EU, to safeguard communities against the impact of coastal erosion.
It says: “Current legislation does not require utility companies to contribute to such work, although they are often direct beneficiaries with their infrastructure protected and safeguarded from the impacts of coastal erosion.”
Anglian Water said it welcomes the proposals and stated it has invested more than £8m in flood and coastal erosion projects in the east of England across the last five years.
A spokesman for Anglian Water said: “We fully endorse the principle that utilities should contribute towards the costs of coastal protection where they have assets in vulnerable areas.
“In Heacham, we are contributing over £300,000 to the ongoing Wash East beach nourishment work being undertaken by the borough council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk.”
Mr Bastiman has asked the government to commission a national coastal erosion resilience review in order to instigate the proposals.
Gabion cages and hexagonal blocks are in place at Hemsby - one of Norfolk’s most at risk coastal villages - to manage erosion.
In north Norfolk, a multi-million pound scheme which aims to safeguard a three-and-a-half mile stretch of beach between the Bacton Gas Terminal and Walcott looks set to go ahead later this year.
Policy manager at Energy UK - the trade association for the energy industry in Great Britain - India Redrup said: “The energy sector is committed to tackling the impacts of climate change and ensuring the natural environment is sustainably conserved at the sites it develops and operates.”
The eight signatures came from: Stephen Parnaby OBE, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council; Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council; Ben Houchen, mayor of the Tees Valley; Sarah Bütikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council; Sheila Oxtoby, chief executive of Great Yarmouth Borough Council; Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council; Robert Waltham MBE, leader of North Lincolnshire Council; Sue Jeffrey, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.