MP attacks Government over sea defences

DESPITE global warming and rising sea levels, government is cutting back on sea defence budgets at a time when the threat is growing, it has been claimed.

By Richard Cornwell

DESPITE global warming and rising sea levels, government is cutting back on sea defence budgets at a time when the threat is growing, it has been claimed.

Visiting Felixstowe to see the state of the resort's beaches, MP Norman Lamb, chairman of the all-party coastal and marine group, criticised the government and said more needed to be done to protect coastal communities.

Felixstowe has been refused grant aid for a £6 million project to protect 1,600 homes and the port in the low-lying south of the resort because it did not get its grant application in early enough and all the money had been allocated elsewhere.


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Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors at Suffolk Coastal are united that action is desperately needed - but have rowed over how the grant application was handled.

Mr Lamb said: “In my view, government has failed to acknowledge the seriousness of the threat we face and to cut back on money at a time when that threat is increasing through sea levels rising and global warming is extraordinary.

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“The council here has to also take its share of the responsibility because it is clear it is priority that the town must be protected and there must be serious questions over why the bid for grant aid did not go in sooner than it did to Defra - so late that when it did the cupboard was bare.

“There is absolutely no doubt that work has to be done, but also the beaches are needed as part of the regeneration of the town and its tourism.

“It seems to me the east coast has been the poor relation when it comes to sea defence work and this needs to be addressed.”

Councillor Mike Ninnmey had visited Bournemouth where grants had been agreed for wooden groynes and replenishment of the beach for years to come with tens of millions of pounds from government.

He said: “I want to know why we cannot have that - we were told wooden groynes would be best but too expensive.”

Conservative leaders on Suffolk Coastal are still pressing for grant aid and have been involved in lengthy talks with Defra.

Deputy leader Andy Smith said: “There is no clear commitment to increasing the funding for coastal defence works, something which we believe is becoming increasingly urgent and which the government must address.”

Labour councillors have criticised the timing of the council bid and felt Defra should have known a bid was coming.

Do you think the government is doing enough to protect the coast? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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