Scratby erosion hopes higher

HOPES are high in Scratby that clifftop homes won’t be abandoned to the sea and erosion.

Last Friday, Scratby Coastal Erosion Group (SCEG) held its annual meeting to discuss progress made over protecting the village, which is predicted to lose 55 properties by 2055 due to the encroaching seas.

And raising hopes of the possibility of a �3.9m rock berm project supported by the group, was the news that Great Yarmouth Borough Council was working towards changing the status of the stretch of coastline from being defined as an area of “no active intervention” to one of “managed realignment”.

The news followed a report by Tim Howard, head of regeneration and environment at the council, on the second draft of the Shoreline Management Plan, which is due to go out for consultation in June and assesses the risk of erosion and ways of dealing with such risks.

The change means that, unlike with the policy of “no active intervention”, as long as funds are available some work would be permitted.

Jim Bratton, secretary of the SCEG, was pleased but emphasised such a change was not definite, but “anticipated.”

He said: “We had intimations; that’s what they had been trying, but we had not heard it from an officer before and if it happens it will be a major achievement.”

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The rock berm project, which would extend a current rock berm in California, is now being reviewed by the Environment Agency for funding and viability with a response expected later this month.

Mr Bratton added: “We’re encouraged but it’s all still teetering on the brink.”

A report of the meeting noted that “a small minority of Scratby residents blame the coastal erosion group for causing a drop in property prices by drawing attention to coastal erosion.”

However, at the meeting attended by residents, SCEG chairman Chris Hogg pointed to “no active intervention” designation as being the real culprit.

A the meeting, Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, who recently accepted the position of co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coastal Issues, was reported to have “offered his continued support to Scratby community and SCEG.”

The MP also told those gathered he was currently trying to change rules which prevented any work being carried out at community level.

Finally, it was noted that Happisburgh-based coastal erosion expert Malcolm Kerby referred to consultation documents currently in circulation from the Environment Agency.

“He stressed how important it is that they are responded to as it is the number of responses that have an effect.

“One in particular refers to funding of coastal defence schemes. This effectively means that the requirement for a large percentage of local funding will give a totally unfair advantage to wealthy communities, whereas ordinary coastal villages will lose out.”

The Shoreline Management Plan originally declared the Scratby coastline as an area of “no active intervention” in 2004.

The high level plan, which looks to provide a route map for dealing with the issue for up to 100 years, is one of a number that cover 6,000km of coastline and are currently being re-assessed.