‘Rights at risk’ in Hopton sea plans

Human rights will be breached if Great Yarmouth Borough Council fails to protect more than a dozen cliff-top homes and businesses from the ocean.

That is the view of Brian Hardisty whose Hopton home will be engulfed with 14 houses and two holiday companies if the Kelling to Lowestoft Ness Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) is approved.

His warning comes after plans revealed sea defences at Yarmouth and Gorleston would be maintained, while parts of Hopton would be allowed to fall into the sea.

It is a recommendation he believes breaches Article 14 (discrimination) of the Human Rights Act 1998.

The plans will see five seafront properties, Bourne Leisure and the Potters Leisure resort lost to the sea by 2055. Meanwhile, 15 properties will be lost by 2105.

But the borough council has made clear that nothing has been decided yet.

Mr Hardisty, a Hopton parish councillor and chairman of Hopton Costal Action Group, said: 'If they are going to hold the line in Gorleston, then why not in Hopton? It's discrimination.

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'If I had the financial backing then I would take the council to European Court of Human Rights for breaching the Article 14 (discrimination) of the Human Rights Act.

'The sea defences will be allowed to fail at Hopton because it is not financially viable to do anything about it. Yet, Hopton brings in revenue of �10m to the local economy each year, plus 1,000 jobs from holiday resorts.'

'That is reason enough to save it from going into the sea. The businesses and the properties of this village deserve a policy of hold the line and nothing else will do.'

The recommendations for Hopton is to allow the coast to retreat through a policy of managed realignment once the sea defences fail.

But during a Hopton Parish Council meeting on Monday night, council representatives and a coastal experts revealed the policy would be investigated through a �250,000 strategic review funded by DEFRA and the Environment Agency.

The 18-month strategy review will identify a programme of work to be carried out along the coastline as well as taking into account compensation for people who lose their homes.

Meanwhile, criticisms were aimed at Paul Patterson of Costal and Land Drainage Team during the meeting after claims erosion predictions had failed to identify the speed of Hopton's erosion.

He said: 'You mention the errors on erosion, but it is an estimate. There are so many things which can influence the speed of erosion. It was the best effort we could make but sometimes that is wrong. It is a clear example of the uncertainty we can face.

'We are not here to give you something to run kicking and screaming away from.

'I would like us to come together as a team to try and solve the problem of costal management.'

The Kelling to Lowestoft Ness Shoreline Management Plan is expected to go before the borough council in the near future.

Leader of the borough council, Steve Ames, said: 'In order to attain approval for, or bid for funding to preserve the current coastal defences or to build more defences, we have to have an agreed Shoreline Management Plan in place.

'The plan does not dictate the strategy we are to specifically take for respective areas.

'That is to be done through the next phase of the Coastal Strategy review – which we are to produce in partnership with Waveney District Council.'

'It is the strategy that would take any decision around adapting to coastal change. No decisions have been take therefore – as the review of the Strategy has not been completed.

The results of HM Walligford study funded by Bourne Leisure, based in Hopton, into the impact of Yarmouth's Outer Harbour on Hopton Beach is to revealed in the new year.

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