Defending the coast against flooding and erosion is an enormously important issue for us in East Anglia. In fact, the area just south of Kessingland has the most rapidly eroding coastline in the UK.
But it’s not just natural erosion that is the problem – we are actually being told that we have to allow the sea to flood good quality farmland (often land that was reclaimed from the sea hundreds of years ago). A few years ago there was even a plan to abandon 25 square miles of Norfolk to be flooded by the sea. One of the major reasons for this policy is the EU Habitats Directive. This says that if a habitat such as salt marsh is ‘lost’ – even if it lost is due to coastal erosion – then the government has to create a ‘replacement habitat’. So sea walls are deliberately breached and good quality farmland gets flooded to create a new salt marsh.
Obviously, it makes good environmental sense to create a replacement habitat if you are building a new airport – but flooding good quality farmland that is producing food is utterly stupid and wasteful.
We need to take back control of our own laws so that we can both protect the environment and have a sensible approach to defending our coast from flooding and coastal erosion.
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