Norfolk coast is under-threat - don’t region’s residents care?
- Credit: MAURICE GRAY
As ferocious winter waves continue to pummel the coast this week, fears are growing that some of the area's most vulnerable communities could soon disappear under the sea.
But, with petitions demanding better sea defences attracting so few signatures, one campaigner has begged the question: 'Don't the people of Norfolk care?'
Walcott, Bacton and Happisburgh Village Community Action Group circulated the petition in an effort to avoid a repeat of the floods in December 2013 which left many coastal communities devastated.
It followed concerns that they could be excluded from plans to improve the sea defence at nearby Bacton to stop the gas site - which processes up to one third of the UK gas supply – from being washed away.
'Sandscaping' - when extra sand is distributed on the shoreline - could be used to build a natural sea defence to protect the terminal, as part of the coastal management scheme.
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However, the local authority has warned that, if more money cannot be found, the operators of the gas terminal may go it alone.
Now an online petition has also been launched to make the government take notice. It needs at least 10,000 signatures to receive a response but so far has only 468.
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David King, whose holiday home at Walcott has been flooded twice in the last eight years, said: 'The Norfolk coastline has been under threat for many years, but sea defences were built and have been largely effective. Why then do the powers that be feel that the time has come to let the sea claim the low lying land around the coast, including isolating the Bacton gas site and, indeed, the prospect of losing the Broads themselves?
'To me it's pure madness. People are set to lose their homes, others their livelihoods, their village and community apart from the farmland being surrendered to the waves. Eventually the sea will have to be halted, by which time the coastline will be much longer and vastly more expensive to defend.
'There are two petitions for the public to sign - one in some outlets around the coast. The online petition requires 10,000 plus signatures to make the government take notice, why then have the vast majority of Norfolk people failed to sign it? Don't they care?'
The petitions were made available to sign at businesses along the coast, including: Bacton - Poachers Pocket, Keswick Hotel, Gooch's Garage, Burger Shack and Sugar and Spice Café and the Duke Public House. Happisburgh – The Hill House Public House, The Halt, Fair Maiden Shellfish shop. Walcott - The Lighthouse Inn, Walcott Caravan and Chalet Park, The Mace Shop, Kingfisher Cafe, Kingfisher Fish Bar, and Slate Bungalow Rest Stop.
Northamptonshire-based Mr King, whose late brother Richard started Happisburgh Coastwatch, said: 'I was dismayed to see such a poor response so decided to get involved and try to up the profile of the petition and get more signatures. I contacted stallholders, holiday home owners on our site, and put up a load of posters to inform the population. It did some good but insignificant in the scheme of things.' And he added: 'Time is running out.'
Some homeowners have seen insurance premiums to cover the properties trebled following the tidal surge three years ago and others keen to relocate have been unable to sell their homes.
To sign the petition, log on to the following website: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/167171