August 2006 Comments

This month we shall welcome Ian Pearson MP, the new Minister, to this area so that he may see for himself the true extent of the problems along our coastline.

I have to say I do admire the man for volunteering to come here, before being asked, at our meeting on June 8th having only been in post for a very short time and I would ask all of my friends and colleagues in these parts to join with me in offering the Minister a genuinely warm welcome.

It is my most fervant hope that the visit will open the way for a new era. An era of greater understanding by all sides of each others problems, of much closer and more meaningful dialogue and above all an era of ACTION and co-operation.

As many will know I have an absolute conviction that if we (all sides) are prepared to sit round the table together, enter into discussion starting with the areas on which we agree (there are some) and move naturally into the more contentious issues we will achieve an outcome which can be bought into by everyone.

Recently Prof. Tim O’Riordan presented the preliminary findings of the research project carried out by the Tyndall Centre on the impact of the draft, pilot, second generation Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) for this area on our communities. I am particularly pleased with the results as they confirm what CCAG has been putting forward over recent years. Let us hope that Government from this point forward stops just hearing us and actually starts to listen.

On the wider front I have been working with communities in other parts of the country, the South East and the North East in particular. One of the things that puzzles me enormously is why DEFRA is pushing SMPs into other parts of the country before the problems thrown up by the pilot plan here have been resolved. It is common knowledge that our pilot SMP has caused significant property and planning blight throughout the coastal strip and up to app. two miles inland. Surely by imposing SMPs in other areas DEFRA is spreading blight all around the country. Come on DEFRA do the responsible thing, place a moratorium on all further SMPs until the problems with the pilots have been resolved.

Malcolm Kerby (07 August 2006)