Coastal erosion in the spotlight as DEFRA seeks views on new approaches

Monday, July 8, 2019

DEFRA is seeking evidence on how it should develop its approach to managing the risks from flooding and coastal erosion, looking particularly at funding local flood protection initiatives and adapting to coastal change.

The call for evidence points in particular to coastal areas “where it is not sustainable or affordable to build and maintain defences in the long term”, and where “authorities need to plan for a proactive transition”. 

It adds: “We wish to understand more about the challenges local authorities face in assessing the sustainability and affordability of different approaches, and in making decisions on coastline management.”

Respondents are asked to provide details on the approaches coastal protection authorities take to assess the “long-term affordability and ongoing sustainability” of their policies, how they have drawn up shoreline management plans alongside broader area plans, and examples of where they have tried to set up a coast protection scheme and levy coast protection charges under the Coast Protection Act 1949. 

It comes after James Bevan, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, said in June that “we cannot prevent some parts of the country from flooding or eventually disappearing into the sea”. His warning came off the back of advice from the Committee on Climate Change that the UK is likely to see at least one-metre sea level rise “within our children’s lifetime”. 

While the EA will continue to build and maintain defences, Bevan said some funding may come from “new sources, such as businesses or green finance, or individuals or communities”.

DEFRA’s call for evidence also considers how future projects will be funded. It asks for examples of flood and coastal erosion protection projects “funded from sources other than the public sector” and what could be done to encourage more “private and community funded initiatives”, particularly when it comes to contributions from new developments. 

The department has also asked how the concept of resilience is used in the context of flooding and coastal erosion, how composite metrics could be used to monitor the issue, and whether organisations are already disclosing their exposure to flooding-related financial risks. 

The Welsh government launched a flooding and coastal erosion consultation in June that stressed the importance of “nature based solutions”.

DEFRA’s call for evidence closes on 19 August.

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