MPs form group for coastal issues

A cross-party set of MPs will re-establish a pressure group designed to take important coastal issues to the heart of government.

Headed by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb and featuring MPs with coastal constituencies from around the UK, the group will act as a forum for debate and attempt to sway Government policy.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Marine and Coastal Issues will hold an initial meeting on February 9 in Westminster to set out some of their objectives. They will also have a presentation from Malcolm Kerby, who has spearheaded the coastal erosion effort at Happisburgh for several years and taken his lobbying effort into the debating chambers of the UK and Europe.

Last night Mr Lamb said the intention was to provide a platform for discussion about all sorts of coastal and marine issues, but erosion and sea defence looked set to play a major part.

"It will bring maritime MPs together in one place at one time and provide a chance for us to work together across the major political parties. Interested parties can look at the issues, formulate policy options and encourage wider political debate and action on the coast."

Mr Kerby said the creation of the group was evidence of the Norfolk experience with coastal problems reaching a wider audience.

"There are some MPs out there in other parts of the country who have shown precious little interest along the way, but they have finally realised they and their constituents are going to be touched by these issues.

"It's an example of the ripple effect, we are at the epicentre here in Happisburgh and North Norfolk in terms of campaigning, but the word is spreading to communities around the country."

The group has been set up in conjunction with CoastNET, an international networking organisation that works with organisations to find long-term solutions to coastal problems.

Back in Norfolk, Mr Lamb and Mr Kerby also intend to set up a local group open to the likes of parish councils, community groups, leisure organisations and individuals to swap information about changes in coastal issues.