MP to take erosion plight to ministers

Clifftop villagers left at the mercy of the sea by new coastal defence plans were given fresh hope yesterday as an MP vowed to take their plight to the government.

Clifftop villagers left at the mercy of the sea by new coastal defence plans were given fresh hope yesterday as an MP vowed to take their plight to the government.

Plans adopted by Waveney District Council last month downgraded the protection policy for Corton, near Lowestoft, to one of “managed realignment” with 100 properties predicted to be lost to erosion during the next century.

Coastal protection offers said strict government guidelines meant that they could not spend more money on defences than the value of the properties they were protecting, so could not justify the potential £10m cost of reinforcing the sea wall at the end of its 20-year lifespan.

And with Defra officials refusing to offer compensation for the homes and businesses left exposed by the plans, Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said he would speak to ministers in an attempt to save the village from falling into the sea.

He said: “I can't see any sense in letting a place of that size fall into the sea. We have defended it for the foreseeable future and I believe we should continue to defend it beyond that. Rather than get into a conversation about compensation all the effort should be put into defending the village.” Mr Blizzard said property-owners had a right to expect their protection to continue after gaining a sense of security from the £3.5m spent in 2005 to build the current defences.

A Defra spokesman said they had no obligation to pay compensation for homes lost to coastal erosion - even those which had previously been protected with government funding.

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Waveney accepted the Shoreline Management Plan covering the coast from Kelling to Lowestoft on September 27.

Labour councillor John Shanahan tabled an amendment committing the council to investigate compensation, but this was rejected by the Tory-run council who claimed that five working groups were already in place.

Ken Sale, Waveney's portfolio holder for the built environment, said: “We are working on this in other ways. If we put that amendment in the plan they would totally ignore us. We are fighting tooth and nail for these people and we are going to lobby all we can to get compensation and other land for those people with the problems.”

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