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Flooding could destroy Norfolk villages
Further plans to abandon parts of the coast of Eastern England to the sea are expected from the Environment Agency this year, following the suggestion that six villages around the Norfolk Broads might have to be given up to flooding within the next 100 years.
There are fears that dozens of historic villages would be abandoned to the sea.
Norman Lamb, the North Norfolk Liberal Democrat MP, said: "There would be churches lost, whole communities lost and a lot of older historic buildings."
Coastal campaigners expect land from The Wash to Kelling along the north Norfolk coast and between Lowestoft and Felixstowe in Suffolk to fall victim to the agency's plans for "no active intervention" to stop coastal erosion. The latest revisions of the agency's shoreline management plans, originally drawn up in 1996, predict sea levels will rise by up to three feet as a result of climate change. The policy would see hundreds of homes destroyed and swathes of the counties' heritage wiped out.
Campaigners say a policy change at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has led to the presumption that coastal management will be withdrawn in areas where the cost to the public cannot be justified.
Under current laws, residents whose homes are destroyed would not be eligible for compensation and no discussions have taken place to change the situation, according to Mr Lamb. A spokesman for English Heritage, which aims to protect and promote England's historic environment, said: "Norfolk's history as a major international trading region has left it with a rich collection of listed medieval buildings, especially its fine churches."
Rarely can the charge that England is disappearing have applied quite so literally. As we report, the Government plans to abandon 25 square miles of Norfolk, drowning homes, farms and whole villages.
DEFRA, that most lamentable of government departments, is refusing to fund adequate sea defences. One of the most distinctive and striking of all British landscapes - the endless skies, flat beaches and pewter-coloured waves of the East Anglian littoral - risks being carried away. . . And, to add insult to injury, one of the few properties to have been reinforced is owned by the Environment Secretary's father, Tony Benn - despite it being one of the few coastal estates between the Thames and the Wash with no public footpath.
There is more to this affair, though, than neglect, penny-pinching and the whiff of nepotism. We have written many times of our concern about the metropolitan outlook of this Government which, for most of its term, has not had a single cabinet minister with a rural seat. Perhaps its neglect of the countryside owes something to a sense that there are not enough Labour votes out there worth chasing.
Yet it does not seem to have occurred even to Hilary Benn that, while few Labour voters live in East Anglia, many of them enjoy visiting its shores and many more nurture a concern for the environment that is neither selfish nor affected. Our eastern lowlands are a national, not a local treasure, and if they are lost, they will not be retrievable.
My comment, living elsewhere in east Anglia and being one of those regular visitors is that :-
The coast of East Anglia is an international treasure. How does it acquire world heritage status like the Jurassic coast of Dorset?
It needs to, and fast.
Above Brancaster - between the Wash and Kelling and at risk. Photo by Mustrum Ridcully