EA to get more coastal protection powers

The Environment Agency would take the lead in managing both sea flood risk and coastal erosion, taking over some responsibility from local authorities, under changes proposed in a Defra consultation on Monday.

An integrated strategy for protecting Britain’s coast from flood risk and erosion would be more effective in the face of climate change, as well as simplifying the system, Defra hopes.

While the EA is already the main public body responsible for managing flood risk, with powers to forecast and protect against flooding on the coast and inland, it shares that responsibility with maritime local authorities.

The EA would also take the lead in dealing with coastal erosion and encroachment by the sea. The UK’s maritime local authorities, of which there are over 90, currently have powers to tackle coastal erosion as well as flooding from the sea. Under the proposed changes local authorities would deliver projects on the ground under the strategic direction of the EA, making a nationwide sustainable strategy easier to implement.

Environment minister Ian Pearson said: “Today’s consultation sets out a system that is both clearer and more understandable to people, but which also ensures that funding is used to best effect. By giving one body, the Environment Agency, the lead in managing all flood and erosion risk on the coast, we will be in a better position to anticipate, prepare for and minimise the inevitable impacts that climate change will have on our coastline.

“We want to improve our ability to manage the risks on our coast in a truly sustainable way, which means working with, rather than against, natural processes, and planning ahead for further protection or realignment and adaptation depending on the circumstances.

“As well as protecting as many homes and businesses as possible, this approach can also create environmental and local tourism benefits. Achieving more strategic management in this way is in line with the Government’s Making Space for Water strategy which sets out the clear need for more sustainable solutions and for adaptation to climate change.

“The proposals should also offer the public greater clarity on which locations are likely to be protected in the future whilst also making it clear who is taking such decisions and on what basis.”

The consultation is set to run until October 31.

Goska Romanowicz

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