Forum for coastline communities

Seaside towns and villages threatened with coastal erosion are to be given a stronger say on how their communities should be protected from powerful waves causing chaos along beaches.

Seaside towns and villages threatened with coastal erosion are to be given a stronger say on how their communities should be protected from powerful waves causing chaos along beaches.

Residents on the north Norfolk's coastline are being asked to join a forum which will help shape government and council policy on preserving the region's attractive clifftops and beaches.

North Norfolk District Council is in the process of setting up a new coastal issue forum which will report directly to the authority's chief executive and cabinet on how to prevent the worst effects of erosion.

The new body, which would replace a less powerful council group, will help develop a district-wide coastal management plan over the next two years and provide guidance on what the government should do to shore up sea defences.

Happisburgh is a classic case study on how coastal erosion destroys property and land. The village's 1950s wooden defences had to be improved in 2002 by the district council but the problem of coastal subsidence still poses a real and dangerous threat.

Malcolm Kerby, from Happis-burgh's coastal concern action group, said: "What we are witnessing is a rapid slide into coastal chaos, for it will not be long before the situation becomes irreversible in many places.

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"The district council has recognised and is acting upon the absolute need to buy some time for its coastal communities by investing in some defences which will hopefully get us through the next 10 years or so while we wait for a more sustainable coastal policy."

Councillors will be asked to approve setting up the new forum on Monday and, if passed, the council will invite anyone who has an interest in coastal issues to sit on the group.

Clive Stockton, portfolio holder for coastal issues, said: "Our coast is an integral part of many north Norfolk communities and it has a major influence on the activities of many organisations, not least the district council."

The new forum will also work closely with regional flood committees, the Anglian Coastal Authorities Group and Defra.

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