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Latest perspective on Broads flood scare

PUBLISHED: 14:29 07 May 2008 | UPDATED: 08:57 13 July 2010

The controversy about possible Broads flooding has received widespread attention in the last few days - both locally and nationally. ED FOSS reports..



EVEN the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, waded into the debate over plans to sacrifice 25 square miles of Norfolk land to the sea during the launch of a new inshore lifeboat for Sea Palling on Sunday.

The controversy about possible Broads flooding has received widespread attention in the last few days - both locally and nationally. ED FOSS reports..

EVEN the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, waded into the debate over plans to sacrifice 25 square miles of Norfolk land to the sea during the launch of a new inshore lifeboat for Sea Palling on Sunday.

Bishop Graham said the proposal by Natural England could leave coastal communities feeling “like prisons from which there is no escape”.

Addressing a packed church in Sea Palling he said vibrant communities with spirit, such as Sea Palling, were crucial and should not be made to feel unimportant.

He told the congregation: “The consequential planning blight could make these coastal communities seem like prisons from which there is no escape. People do matter. Communities matter. And communities only prosper if they are loved.”

Meanwhile a senior Natural England scientist has apologised for the alarm and distress the proposals have caused.

Principal specialist in climate change evidence, Dr David Viner, said the agency understood the concerns of people who fear their homes may be lost, indicating they should be compensated by the government if the scheme went ahead.

But he said difficult choices had to be made over the future of the Broads in response to climate change and that Natural England had been right to start a debate.

Dr Viner admitted Natural England had anticipated the report would cause controversy: “We were fully aware of the impact of presenting a scenario - I must stress they are scenarios, not plans - that would appear to, without much consultation, deliberately lose villages and homes.

“In terms of this project, it was a research exercise. There are other scenarios in place where, as it is part of a managed action, compensation measures would be in place. The social justice issue would be high on the board because we know how unacceptable it is.

“I can totally understand the concerns of the local population and that's something we've got to hold our hands up to and say, 'Look we're very apologetic about that'.”

And on Tuesday, Mid Norfolk MP Keith Simpson led a parliamentary debate on the issue, during which environment minister Phil Woolas was put on the spot on a raft of issues - although he was criticised afterwards for failing to answer many of the questions.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb accused Mr Woolas of “not giving the assurance that the affected communities need” and emphasised that “we will not give up until we get it”. He was particularly concerned that Mr Woolas had not addressed the plight of people whose property values were immediately blighted by the leaking of the Natural England idea.

Coastal campaigner Malcolm Kerby said he was impressed by the cross party efforts of most of the Norfolk MPs at Tuesday's debate, but felt Mr Woolas' response was “deeply disappointing”.

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