As many people have pointed out to me, it is many months since I have made comment. This is not for the lack of material to comment upon, but simply because I felt very strongly that after the veritable whirlwind of activity in the wake of the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) and the consultation which followed, I rather foolishly believed that given the space and time to take on board the consultation findings, the Civil Servants would finally come up with some common sense.
Much has happened in recent times; perhaps most significantly we have a new Minister in charge of coast defence policy. One would earnestly hope that this Minister is going to be his own man and not let his civil servants bamboozle him with their rather obscured view. By obscured I mean they are seemingly unable to move away from the way things have always been done, much of their approach seems to be rooted in misconception and fear of change.
It is quite possible that we are facing unprecedented problems in the management of our coastline. Global warming and the consequent rise in sea level combined with a sinking land mass, changes in weather patterns with a high probability of a marked increase in rather more extreme storm activity. The relatively new discovery of global dimming which seems to pose a real cath 22 scenario that if we are effectively changing the way we live, clean up our act and reduce carbon particle emissions it may allow even more of the sun’s energy to reach us thereby accelerating global warming.
There has never been a time in our development requiring lateral thinking in coastal defence more than now. There is a demand for green energy. Why can we not think about tri functional sea defences? Defences which use the massive tidal force of the sea to produce renewable energy as well as enhancing the tourism value for the many coastal areas requiring regeneration. Along with those benefits surely we could construct them in such a way that we actually manage and enhance the sediment budget? This I believe is the truly sustainable way forward; sea defences which pay for themselves over time.
Is it really beyond us? After all we can make bombs which follow a laser line to deliver pinpoint accuracy, missiles which can follow a road map. Isn’t it amazing how we can spend billions on ever more sophisticated means of destroying man and his habitat but so very little on the preservation of man and his habitat?
Finally, I would thank the new Minister, Ian Pearson MP most sincerely for meeting with our MP Norman Lamb and three of us from North Norfolk so early in his new post. That could not have been easy for him but greatly appreciated. The Minister also volunteered to come to North Norfolk and see for himself “before the summer is out”. Hats off to the man and I very much look forward to offering him a genuinely warm and constructive welcome to this area.
Malcolm Kerby (03 July 2006)