Anglia Coastal Forum and Theresa Coffey MP did a real dodge job at a big Snape conference a few weeks back. Boasting more money than ever before, Coffey, now a junior minister responsible for flooding, explained lightly how this took the form of the same money over five years, and an observer noted that the new budget might cover both inland and coastal flooding.
Coastal flood management issues had only a month before been the subject of a Government-commissioned study which bashed present multiple overlapping authorities and responsibilites and gaping holes – literally – in coastal flood planning.
Press comment has been speculating that inland flooding is the new priority, especially in Tory voting areas. East Anglia’s recently decided patchwork of priority zones neatly dodges round the Suffolk AONB and Sizewell coastline.
More to come, but this Forum was more self-congratulatory than productive. New buzzword is “natural capital”, whose realities (or unrealities) are shown by the Hazlewood Marshes story.
Coastal defence money is so short on the ground that when the sea wall south of Aldeburgh was breached three years ago, flooding Hazlewood Marshes, ecologists had to adapt to a change from existing freshwater marsh nature reserve status to a new “intertidal” status. Natural England said they had no adequate repair money, and Suffolk Wildlife Trust, the reserve managers, agreed the status change.
Most useful thing about the day was the publication of a report called “Suffolk’s Changing Coast”, sponsored by the AONB, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the “Touching the Tide” Landscape partnership, written by Liz Ferretti.