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Do Yorkshire's "Ageing Coastal Defences" Need a New Funding Model?

Do Yorkshire's "Ageing Coastal Defences" Need a New Funding Model?

Published by Matthew Pells at 6:00am 9th March 2019.

Utility companies should shoulder some of the cost of coastal defence schemes according to the leader of Scarborough Borough Council who has written to Government Ministers about the problem this week.

In his letter, Derek Bastiman says that our coastal defence structures are "aging, reaching the end of their working life and in desperate need of investment".

He says that cash strapped seaside councils are having to pay for the sea defences while some of the big beneficiaries such as utility companies whose facilities are protected by the schemes are not required to provide any funding.

The letter which asks government ministers to undertake a National Coastal Erosion Resilience Review has been signed by leaders of eight coastal councils including both North Yorkshire County Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

The letter was sent to Rishi Sunak, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Here is the full text of the letter.

Dear Rishi

Coastal Erosion Resilience and Mitigation

As you are no doubt aware, our coastal communities face significant issues in relation to their social economic performance and the local authorities responsible for these areas have a wide range of challenges to address with limited resources at their disposal.

One often overlooked fact is that many of these coastal authorities face the ever-increasing burden of having to mitigate the growing impact that coastal erosion has on our communities and infrastructure.

In general, our coastal defence structures are aging, reaching the end of their working life and/or in desperate need of investment. In some cases our structures are simply no longer capable of mitigating the climatic and hydrological changes within our environment.

These structures provide both the first and last line of defence between our communities, the vital infrastructure, services and utilities that serve them, and the sea. Local authorities, along with agencies such as the Environment Agency and EU partners, directly invest £100’s of millions annually in the maintenance of these structures and the strain on local government resources in these coastal communities is significant.

Current legislation does not require utility companies to contribute to such work, although they are often direct beneficiaries with their infrastructure protected and safeguarded from the impacts of coastal erosion. A situation we believe to be inequitable.

We would therefore encourage Government to incentivise utility companies to plan and invest in the resilience of their coastal infrastructure in step with local authorities and the partner agencies.

In the first instance, we believe this could be instigated by the commissioning of a “National Coastal Erosion Resilience Review” undertaken in a similar vein to the National Flood Resilience Review (HM Government Sept 2016) and which includes the utility companies as a major stakeholder and beneficiary.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter further with you should you so wish and at a time of your convenience.

Yours sincerely

Cllr. Derek J Bastiman

Leader, Scarborough Borough Council

 

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