SEAFORD: Dismay over ‘low-priority’ coastal plan

DISAPPOINTMENT has been expressed over a report on plans to manage the coastline between Seaford and Newhaven after the scheme was deemed a ‘low priority’.

The failure to mention the tourism potential and amenity value of Seaford beach was also of concern to town councillors who discussed the document by the Environment Agency (EA).

The Agency recently reviewed a proposal which sets out how flood and erosion will be managed for the next 100 years on the River Ouse - from the A27 road bridge to Newhaven, and the coastline between Newhaven and Seaford.

The Agency predicts that - if no defences are created - then by 2111 up to 1,500 homes will be at risk of flooding and coastal erosion.

The draft Ouse to Seaford Head Coastal Defence Strategy is an update of a report produced in 2006.

Councillor Bob Brown added, “There’s no mention here of tourism as an opportunity at all, nothing encouraging more visitors.

“I think we have some issues to address here.”

The EA has been meeting regularly with representatives from Seaford Town Council and Seaford Community Partnership and this issue will be discussed further at a meeting of the three organisation’s next week.

Jim Skinner, chairman of the Friend of Tide Mills and a member of the Seaford Seafront Theme Group, highlighted that the report mentions the scheme was a low priority in the overall UK wide floodscheme and therefore funding may not be fully available.

The EA added that it would be seeking financial contributions from private organisations in the local area to help secure funds.

Mr Skinner added, “I would also request that there should be a request to record in the plan that the EA will in the future continue to directly involve itself with the local community in at least attempting to develop jointly a better and more self-sustaining management strategy.

“This is important, particularly given the undoubted increasingly unstable and degrading integrity of the beach, which with rising sea levels as accepted by the EA, will have to be built ever higher and therefore steeper if the EA continues with the existing strategy which this document currently recommends.”

The committee will pass its comments on to the EA, including how its expects the beach and town to be protected against the sea as a high priority.

Joe Giacomelli, a spokesman for the Environment Agency, said, “A final decision on the allocation of any monies to Regional Flood Defence Committees will be made in February by the Environment Agency’s Board.

“And decisions on the programmes of schemes to be delivered next year will be made by the regional committees in April.

“Where there are investment choices to be made, we continue to make decisions based on risk to people and property.

“Schemes under construction will continue to be funded and completed.

“Those newly-proposed schemes which provide protection to the most households in relation to their cost, representing the best economic value and protect our environment, are funded ahead of others.

“This ensures that we deliver flood and coastal protection in line with Government expectations that we will provide better protection to 145,000 households over the spending review period.

“Because the overall Flood Defence Grant in Aid allocation is lower this year and a lot of schemes are under construction, this inevitably has an impact on the number of new schemes that are likely to be funded in the year ahead.”

The draft plans are available for comment until Tuesday, February 15, from the EA webpage, www.environment-agency.gov.uk/ousetoseaford