Agenda item

Coastal Partnership East - Update Report

To receive and note the report, and consider the frequency of any future updates.


Cllr A Fitch-Tillett – Portfolio Holder for Coast introduced the report and informed Members that Coastal Management was a primary outward facing service of the Council, with the coast being a key economic driver that presented some of the most significant risks to the District.


Questions and Discussion


       i.          The HCPE gave a presentation on the strategic aims of CPE and noted that significant work had taken place to address climate change, coastal erosion and flooding in the past five years, with many areas at high risk from rising sea levels and other climate change impacts. She added that responding to this would involve adaptation, alternative approaches to coastal management and further innovation that CPE were focused on delivering. It was noted that the skills and resources of CPE were shared across East Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and North Norfolk District Councils, with a joint business plan to address the Council’s responsibilities and a wider aim to develop a climate resilient coast. The HCPE outlined the governance structure of CPE with two Councillors from each Council, alongside an operational officer group, and a wider team structure covering engineering, funding, resilience and special projects, amongst others. She added that CPE were also worked with several other groups including the National Coastal Group Network, the East Anglian Flood and Coastal Committee, and the LGA’s Coastal Special Interest Group to share knowledge and learn from others across the Country. It was noted that officers would also attended Select Committee meetings in Westminster to ensure that coastal adaptation remained a priority on the national political agenda. The HCPE reported that CPE had a £200m funding programme to cover the next ten years, with £500k per year spent on maintaining existing defences. She added that as significant erosion continued, emergency works and temporary defence barriers would remain a key part of CPE’s work, with an aim to transition from reactive to planned work to protect the coast.


      ii.          Cllr H Blathwayt referred to the most vulnerable part of the coast between Cart Gap and Winterton that was managed by the Environment Agency (EA), and asked whether officers were satisfied that their work, communication and funding to defend this area was satisfactory. The CMN replied that as a risk management authority, NNDC had responsibility for erosion areas that extended to Cart Gap, with flanking flood risk areas covered by the EA. He added that EA were a highly capable body for coastal management, and the area referred to was part of the Broadland Futures Initiative, which meant that it was subject to regular monitoring under Hold the Line Policy, and was in good hands with the EA.


     iii.          Cllr J Toye noted that many organisations were involved in coastal management and asked if this was too complex, and whether this delayed matters such as minor repairs. The HCPE replied that there had to be a lead authority, and whilst an alternative such as a national authority could be considered, the local level of understanding was not available at a national level, and as a result local bodies remained best placed to tackle the issues. She added that collaboration with multiple bodies did make the process more complicated, but it was necessary to ensure that all bases were covered when undertaking projects to achieve the best outcomes. It was noted that partnership funding had created more opportunities for all bodies, but projects had to be aligned with funding timescales that was sometimes difficult to achieve. The CMN referred to repairs and maintenance and noted that this work was locally funded, and CPE had a good track record of ensuring that issues were repaired quickly.


    iv.          Cllr C Cushing asked whether all areas of the coast could be realistically defended, or whether managed decline was more realistic. The CMN replied that following the events of 1953, there had been plans to surround the North Norfolk coast in a ring of concrete, however it was fortunate that this had not been built as all schemes had to be environmentally acceptable, technically viable and economically feasible. He added that such a project would have had a significant impact on the natural environment, with a loss of natural sediment from cliffs, which would have starved and lowered beaches, requiring more defences. It was suggested that coastal defence was a balancing act, and CPE made considerable efforts to ensure that defended and undefended areas were treated equitably.


      v.          Cllr V Holliday suggested that whilst EA were highly capable, their communication could be improved and asked whether it was possible for CPE to help with this. The HCPE replied that through the Resilient Coast funding, CPE had gained additional resource with one role linked to the Broadland Futures Initiative that would improve understanding and influence of EA projects, which would enable more detailed updates to be provided to Members going forward.


    vi.          Cllr S Penfold referred to non-human populations and asked for an explanation of CPE’s relationship with wildlife bodies. The HCPE replied that at a strategic level CPE worked together with wildlife bodies on shoreline management plans and policies, and also maintained contact on upcoming projects to ensure that their views and priorities were taken into account. She added that the local nature recovery plans were being discussed to ensure that biodiversity and natural capital were taken into account. It was noted that coastal erosion had a significant impact on biodiversity, and CPE were careful to understand the value of this so that contributions could be sought to ensure its preservation.


   vii.          Cllr A Brown noted that PPBHWP would soon consider the Coastal Adaptation planning document, which would feed into and support the work of CPE.


  viii.          It was suggested that future annual updates should be considered following the May elections.




1.     To receive and note the update.


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