May 2004 Comments

The DTI sponsored Foresight Study published on the 22nd April 04 took on board the likely consequences of continuing lack of investment in coast defences. CCAG has, for some years, been raising awareness of the abject folly of this Government’s do nothing approach to coast defence.

I now feel totally vindicated in pointing out to Elliot Morley and his department the huge disservice they are doing to this nation in coast defence terms. Their lack of judgement, foresight and policy (including their instrument for exclusion – cost benefit and point score) will ultimately cost us the taxpayers many many millions of pounds more than it need or should. Indeed I would contend that the current DEFRA stance is irresponsible in the extreme.

It does rather beg the question: Is it Ministers ignoring sound Civil Service advice or is it the Civil Service ignoring the needs and requirements of the people and giving their Ministers seriously flawed advice? Either way they are both culpable jointly or severally!

They are quite simply derelict in their duty of care and protection of the people. Particularly whilst in the full knowledge of the likely effects of global warming, its effect on weather patterns and glacal rebound; the combined effects of which, according to the experts, will raise sea levels in the south east by some 5-6mm per annum. So by 2024 we can expect a sea level some 100-120mm higher than we currently enjoy.

I am told the effect of this rise on wave height and intensity could be disasterous. Yet we have a Government department, DEFRA, burying their head in the sand of criteria. Their only answer seems to be to comission a report and then another report then reports on reports all of which costs huge amounts of OUR money. Money which would be much better spent actually doing something constructive rather than just covering their backsides.

There will shortly be a new Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) for this area. I am willing to bet it will be pages and pages long, have cost many thousands of pounds to produce, will use all the latest buzz words ie. Sustainable, Sustainability, Natural Equilibrium,Holistic etc. whilst recommending precious little be done. Then the Minister whoever he or she may be can continue to do nothing and point the finger of blame at the SMP.

In my letter to Elliot Morley of the 23rd November 2003 and in previous postings on this site I have spoken of the financial and economic consequences of spending too little on coast defences in the short term. Every day nothing is done so the problem gets worse and becomes more difficult and expensive to address.

There can be no sound economic justification for not building some defences now. Delaying the solution will cost the taxpayer infinately more.

It seems to me that Ministers and civil servants alike seem to forget that they work for us not us them and as taxpayers we require a more cost effective and sensible approach in the way in which they spend OUR money.

Malcolm Kerby (10 May 2004)