EA given strategic coastal flooding role

The Environment Agency has been asked by Government to become more directly involved in plans to protect coastal areas from flooding and erosion.

Previously, the bulk or planning took place at a regional or local level and this move effectively gives the EA the authority to look at the issue from a national, strategic point of view.

This should allow priority areas to be properly identified and help ensure investment in flood defences and erosion control is used to best effect.

The new role requires the agency to take the lead in managing all sea flooding risk in England, allocate funding and oversee coastal erosion works undertaken by local authorities, ensure long-term management plans are in place to protect the whole coastline and work with local authorities to ensure any schemes to minimise flooding and erosion are efficient and effective.

Climate Change and Environment Minister Ian Pearson said that the new role would increase accountability and clarity for the public and help ensure that work is properly prioritised and managed so that record levels of investment are used to best effect.

“While the Environment Agency will bring this all together, they will work closely with local authorities so that, crucially, the skills and local expertise that currently exists in local authorities will continue to support this activity,” he said.

“Defra and local authorities will spend around £600 million this year on flood and coastal erosion risk management in England. Taxpayers have a right to demand that this is used to manage risks in the best and most sustainable way possible in each case, whether by building hard defences or by other approaches such as beach management or realigning the coastline to take account of climate change and other pressures.

“Our approach seeks to ensure that all risks across the country are considered consistently and fairly, and the available funding is directed by the Environment Agency to where it is needed most.”

Barbara Young, chief executive of the Environment Agency said: “This is a significant step towards the sustainable management of England’s coast.

“Climate change and increased development has put increased pressure on flood defences – and it will continue to grow. It is vital that we take a long term view of management for all of our coastline. This new role for the Environment Agency is an exciting challenge.

“How we manage the coast is critical to the sustainability of the communities and habitats it supports. We’re looking forward to working with the Government and local authorities when we take on this sustainable approach.”

Sam Bond

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