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'Derisory' deal for coastal communities

PUBLISHED: 10:19 08 September 2009 | UPDATED: 09:56 13 July 2010

Government proposals to support communities threatened by coastal erosion were slammed as “derisory” this week, as councillors agreed to launch a bid for more financial help.

Government proposals to support communities threatened by coastal erosion were slammed as “derisory” this week, as councillors agreed to launch a bid for more financial help.

At a North Norfolk District Council meeting on Monday, cabinet members were asked for their views on Defra's Coastal Change Policy which aims to address some of the issues faced by businesses and homeowners left to deal with a changing coastline.

The council has long been lobbying for a fair deal for people affected by changes to the way the coast is defended and councillors agreed the policy was a step in the right direction.

But head of coastal strategy Peter Frew said it fell far short of what was needed. “It goes a long way to what we want but it doesn't go far enough,” he said.

“The financial support the government is proposing to give homeowners who lose their homes as a result of a change of government policy is - I think you could use the word derisory in this instance - a total of £4,000 or £5,000.”

Councillor Peter Moore said the support suggested by the policy would barely touch the surface. He said: “The amount of money that's being talked of seems to me to be worse than derisory. It doesn't even cover the estate agent fees for their next house.”

At the same meeting, councillors were also asked to back a bid for a share of £11m of government funding which NNDC could use to help communities adapt to changes brought on by the threat of coastal erosion.

The Coastal Change Fund hopes to support innovative projects helping places where sea defences have been deemed unjustifiable by the government to tackle issues such as a loss of investment, blight and harm to the environment.

Councillors agreed to submit a bid, which will ask for a total of more than £2.5m for a range of projects.

The proposals include a scheme where the council could buy properties at risk and lease them.

Further funds will also be asked for to finance the “rolling back” of businesses, community facilities and dwellings in threatened areas.

Hilary Nelson, NNDC's portfolio holder for tourism, said the bid would help to show communities that the council was not going to let them “fall into the sea”.


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