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Community dialogue needed to shore up coastline

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LOCAL AUTHORITIES must work more closely with communities on managing the UK's coastline, or shoreline management plans will fail to be implemented, leading coastal experts said this week.

'The future of the coastline is so uncertain that there is no way we can give a clear line as to what the coast will be like.

Therefore we need to communicate with communities, ' said University of East Anglia professor of environmental science Tim O'Riorden.

'Otherwise plans will be resisted. Local authorities such as North Norfolk and Great Yarmouth are refusing to ratify new shoreline management plans because they are so unpopular. This stalling is causing concern for the Department for the Environment Food & Rural Affairs, ' he said.

O'Riorden was speaking at NCE's Coastal Defence and Shoreline Management Plans conference in London last week.

Across the UK the second round of shoreline management plans are under development.

Local coastal authorities develop the plans in consultation with residents, which are then ratified by local councils.

The Environment Agency has final approval over the plans.

'In the past we have been pretty terrible at effective stakeholder engagement, ' admitted Environment Agency head of od risk management policy Phil Rothwell.

'If we explain what the problems are and then come up with joint solutions, we have a better chance of success than just trying to impose a solution, which is what we sometimes do, ' he said.

Residents in Norfolk agree that communication has been poor and are protesting against the latest shoreline management plan.

'It [the plan] proposes to stop maintaining the defences that protect Overstrand. It claims that the wall will eventually make it into a promontory, ' said Overstrand Shoreline Management Committee member Alan Wilson.

'We prepared a 40 page report objecting to the scheme and passed it on to Halcrow last year, but we haven't heard anything back, ' he said.

Consultant Halcrow is preparing the plan on behalf of client North Norfolk District Council.

(See analysis, p14)

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