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COST OF THE COAST

Developing on flood-prone land continues to be a hot topic for debate, but protecting estuaries and planning for climate change are becoming increasingly important too.

In an ideal world, local authorities would prevent development of flood plains. They would have the money to plan, implement and maintain flood defence schemes and have procedures in place to deal with flash flooding. The situation is a long way off becoming reality; especially as new government guidance and climate change are added to the mix.

The issue of flooding is most acute on our coastline, where the climate is harshest.
One of the biggest challenges facing local authorities is how to manage spending on reconstruction after floods and flood prevention.

"It seems to me that while monies are thrown at the management of flood events, there needs to be a better balance between the management of the event and planning for the event," says CIRIA project manager Nick Bean. He will be chairing NCE's Coastlines 2008 conference on 18 March which will address the biggest issues facing coastline management.

"A key issue here would be the management of the maintenance activities. Funding needs to be managed appropriately to ensure that the assets protecting the UK are adequate for future flood events," adds Bean.

Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS25) published in 2006 provides guidance on coastal development and its protection, but there are grey areas emerging, such as estuaries.

HR Wallingford director, Richard Whitehouse, says estuarine management is made unnecessarily difficult by current planning practices. Coastlines are punctuated by estuaries which need careful consideration since they are such changeable features. He believes that there could be more estuary specific guidance in the policy document. There is also added confusion of how to tackle flooding on developed and undeveloped stretches of coastline.

Whitehouse will be shedding light on estuary management at the Coastlines conference.

Arup associate Will McBain will also be speaking at the event. He will discuss how climate change should be addressed. He says: "We must 'keep our heads' over the issue of sea level rise and use the best available science wisely – striking a balance between a precautionary approach and intelligent use of managed-adaptation techniques."

The NCE Coastlines 2008 conference will be held at the International Coffee Organisation in London on 18 March.

- For more information or to book a place at the conference visit www.ncecoastlines.co.uk or call 0845 056 8069

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