December 2009 Comments

As can be seen elsewhere on this site North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) have been awarded £3million, under the Pathfinder project, to support communities and individuals adapt to climate change where defences are no longer to be sustained.

When I first heard the news I could not understand why I felt disappointed, £3million is a significant sum of money however it is only 52% of the amount NNDC bid for. I felt disappointment because I knew that this would reduce the effectiveness of the work which needs to be done.

Two questions continue to burn in my mind, firstly why was the national pot for the Pathfinder project only £11million when £30million was set aside in the Comprehensive Spending Review of Nov 07 ? From that the next question is what has happened to the ‘missing’ £19million ?

The Pathfinder project is designed to be a working pilot policy to inform Government what will be needed post March 2011, when this project ends.

My fear is that, once again through lack of funding, we will not be able to present Government with a complete picture of what is needed and required after march 2011 to ensure a socially just, smooth transition into adaptation to the effects and consequences of global warming and climate change.

Having said all of that it is a significant step forward and a clear indication that the Government ‘machine’ is beginning to understand some of the problems coastal communities and individuals face when coastal policy is changed.

It is an inescapable fact that coast management is an expensive business whether one chooses to defend or not. What we simply must not do is perpetuate the biggest mistake of the last 25 years or so. Underfunding! If we continue the lack of investment in the coast we will, surely, exacerbate the combined effects of Climate change, global warming and sea level rise.

I would take this opportunity to send a heartfelt thank you to all who have supported us over the years, without you nothing would have been possible.

My thanks also to Government Ministers, Politicians (of all political party persuasion) and those within NNDC, DEFRA, the Environment Agency and Natural England who have put up with me for another year and worked toward achieving a more socially just approach to coast management.

Finally and with special thoughts for the people of Cumbria who have recently felt the cruel hand of nature may I wish everyone on behalf of CCAG and Happisburgh a very Happy Christmas and a healthy, happy and safe New Year.

Malcolm Kerby (16 December 2009)