The price of holding back the sea

David Shukman created a most interesting report entitled ‘Holding Back The Sea’ that was broadcast at 21:00 GMT on Wednesday 19th November. It asked the big question as to how can vulnerable coastal communities be protected from flooding now that many areas are no longer funded by the government as was once the case.

Inundation areas along the Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex coastline

Inundation areas along the Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex coastline in red and orange

David travelled the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coast to talk to residents, farmers and business owners about the problems of protecting their lives and livelihoods from future inundations from the sea and visited a self funded pioneering scheme being tested to hold back the sea on the most vulnerable shoreline in eastern England.

People living and working beside a shoreline which covers 4.5 miles of the west coast of Norfolk, from the village of Heacham through Snettisham to Wolferton Creek, are like many other communities being told to pay for their own protection. It was in this very area that thirty people died in the big storm in 1953 when the sea broke through to inundate the area.

Whilst much of the shoreline around The Wash is protected by concrete walls or earth embankments costing as much as over £1,000 per metre, this section is guarded only by a shingle embankment that needs to be reshaped annually following the winter storms. This stretch of coastline, despite including 4,000 caravans, holiday homes and permanent houses and a large tourist and fishing business, is claimed not to meet the latest Treasury ruling for government funding, who are now demanding a minimum of at least £8 in economic benefit for every £1 spent on defences, which due to the gross underestimate of value, will no longer be funded by government money after 2016 when all funding stops.

David Shukman’s report on can be seen on the BBC iPlayer and at:

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