Extra funding ‘essential’ to protect coastal communities

Pictured at 9 Downing Street are: North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb; chief executive at North Norfolk Dis

Pictured at 9 Downing Street are: North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb; chief executive at North Norfolk District Council, Sheila Oxtoby; David Tudor from The Crown Estate; MP Oliver Letwin; deputy leader of North Norfolk District Council, Councillor Angie Fitch-Tillett; Rob Goodliffe, coast and community project manager at North Norfolk District Council; Gokhan Doygun from Shell; and Jaap Flikweert from Royal Haskoning DHV.Also present, but not pictured, were Moatez Darwish from Shell, Andrew Sanders from Per Encourage, Charlie Beardall from the Environment Agency and Neil Angell from Shell.Malcolm Kerby, coordinator of the Happisburgh based Coastal concern Action Group, said: “I think it would set a precedent because that kind of operation has never been used in this part of the world before.” - Credit: Archant

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has warned it would not be acceptable to exclude coastal communities from a scheme to stop a vital gas site from disappearing into the sea.

Bacton gas terminal from the air. Picture; MIKE PAGE

Bacton gas terminal from the air. Picture; MIKE PAGE - Credit: Archant

He spoke out following a high-level meeting with government officials to discuss the Bacton to Walcott Coastal Management Scheme, which is designed to protect the future of the Bacton Gas Terminal.

The Liberal Democrat politician was joined by representatives from North Norfolk District Council, the Environment Agency, Crown Estate and the operators of the site at the Downing Street talks with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, The Right Hon Oliver Letwin MP today (Monday).

The scheme, if it is delivered, could involve 'sandscaping' the shoreline, using high volumes of additional sand and natural processes to protect the coast.

However, the local authority has warned that, if money cannot be found the operators of the gas terminal - which processes up to one third of the UK gas supply - may go it along with their self-funded coastal protection scheme.

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Speaking after the Downing Street talks, Mr Lamb said: 'I believe it is essential to find a way to ensure that Bacton and Walcott benefit. It would not be acceptable for the project to be limited to protecting the gas terminal. I am grateful to Oliver Letwin for seeing us today. Now the government must find a way of ensuring that the full scheme can go ahead.'

Concerns have been raised over the effect to neighbouring villages of installing sea defences at the front of the gas terminal.

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Government funding is not available for the defence of the Bacton Gas Terminal. However, a scheme to enhance the protection of the villages is potentially eligible for government funding.

It is hoped that the scheme may attract further government funding to overcome an estimated shortfall in funds. Costs could be significantly reduced if sand could be taken from a new site offshore from Bacton.

Deputy Leader of North Norfolk District Council, Councillor Angie Fitch-Tillett said: 'Today was a good opportunity for us to present our case at the highest level of Government so there's a clear understanding of why this work is vital for the community. We are working with the terminal operators to see what we can do.'

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