More help needed over erosion - Norfolk residents say

Coastal residents have called for more help in tackling erosion before they back a new shoreline management strategy.

A straw poll among 100 people who attended a meeting at Happisburgh voted to reject the latest SMP between Kelling and Lowestoft, because revisions did not go far enough to compensate the communities affected by cutting back on sea defences.

The key aim of the meeting held on Friday was to see what people felt about the newly revised draft SMP for the section of coast between Lowestoft and Kelling, drawn up in consultation by North Norfolk District Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Waveney District Council and the Environment Agency.

The SMP which dates back to 2004, provides a large-scale assessment of coastal evolution and presents a policy framework which determines how the shoreline will be managed, for instance which sections of the coast are to be protected.

The revised draft includes three conditions, the first being that a proper technical analysis of the coastline should be carried out looking at what the consequences are of defending one place but not another.

The second condition is for an economic analysis looking at what will be lost and the final condition, that if an area is not to be defended then the social justice and compensation issue be addressed.

Malcolm Kerby from the Coastal Concern Action Group, who organised the meeting, acknowledged the work the councillors had done with the revised plan, but said the feeling was that it did not go far enough.

He said: "We had more than 100 people at the meeting and with a straw poll I took everyone wanted to reject the revised SMP, unless there is a social justice element not just as a condition, but actually built into or made to run concurrent with it."

District councillor Clive Stockton, portfolio holder for planning policy, coastal strategy and economic development, said however that he believed both the council and the villagers were "singing from the same hymn sheet" with the revised plan.

He also pointed to the pathfinder programme whereby the council has been given £3m as part of the government's national programme designed to find new ways to help communities adapt to a changing coastline, as starting to go some way to addressing the social justice issue.

The revised SMP plan is due to come back before members of North Norfolk District Council later in the year for acceptance now it has been altered.