March 2004 Comments

It is with much sadness and great anger that I have to report this month that our District Council has met with owners of the four Edwardian houses, one of which is Cliff House Guest house and Tea room, to inform them that the garages at the rear will have to be demolished as so much land has been lost (see aerial picture left) to the sea.

For the owners of these properties this is of course devastating as it obviously heralds the beginning of the end for their lovely six bed, three reception homes. I was present at that meeting and will make no further comment other than to thank the two officers concerned for their sensitivity and understanding. Their task that morning was indeed an onerous one. Interesting thought that DEFRA can cause so many problems and so much grief yet hide behind the skirts of the local authority who have to pick up the pieces and deal with the socio-economic problems which result from DEFRA’s intransigence, some would say incompetence.

Our website has proved invaluable and is currently taking about 7000 visits per month and allows people to contact us which is hugely appreciated. I would congratulate our web master for producing such a good update to the site.

Last week I was contacted and given copies of a company search carried out on one of the leading consultancy companies used by the Government in the process of approving aggregate dredging licenses. As a result I would ask the Minister whether he feels it sensible that of the eighteen directors listed two are reported as being in ‘Government service’ and four are Civil Servants one of whom is the DEFRA Chief Engineer? Whilst I remain convinced that none of those six would use their position on the Board of that company to influence it’s decision making process I do feel it is perhaps unwise to allow such a situation to arise which could be open to so much conjecture. Incidentally the search was carried out on 20th Feb 04. I am sure there must be a perfectly good explanation, which many of us would like to hear.

As there is now a clear link between aggregate dredging and the rate of coastal erosion (Eurosion – Draft Policy Recommendations) our Government MUST now place a moratorium on aggregate dredging and implement a wholly independent, wide ranging, public inquiry which is all encompassing.

Elsewhere in the Eurosion document is Operational Recommendation 3.4 which proposes: “Adjustments to existing national policies and approaches to coastal erosion and flood management should propose mechanisms to constitute financial compensation provisions in order to accommodate managed realignment and resettlement of coastal population at risk, making use of national as well as appropriate European funding schemes. Compensation for existing buildings or land parcels should cover the actual market value of these assets to be abandoned, not taking into account coastal erosion and flood risk.”

The French, of course already compensate their nationals via a scheme which they call the Solidarity Fund.

I have no doubt however that the British Government will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century on this one as they seem to be devoid of morality or sense of justice on this issue.

Malcolm Kerby (01 March 2004)