§ Mr. Willetts
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will make a statement on the progress made with the survey of coast protection works in England.
§ Mrs. Gillian Shephard
My Department commissioned a coast protection survey of England in 1993. The survey was to examine the extent, adequacy and state of repair of coast protection defences, which are designed to protect the land from erosion and encroachment by the sea. A lead consultant was appointed to co-ordinate the collection of data by associate consultants. The lead consultants' report has been published today and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.
The condition of each defence element—for example, embankment groyne—around the coast of England was assessed by visual inspection and the results can be summarised as follows:
Per cent. Class 1 (condition as built) 12 Class 2 (some signs of wear) 47 Class 3 (moderate works needed) 33 Class 4 (significant works needed) 8
It should be emphasised that where a defence element is in need of significant works this does not mean that the integrity of the defences for the relevant stretch of coastline is in immediate jeopardy.
The survey also identified some 135 km of unprotected coast which is at present significantly eroding and where the provision of works may need to be considered within the next ten years.
The survey results have been sent to the local coast protection authorities in England so that they can consider the condition of existing defences in their respective areas and the potential need for defences for unprotected lengths of coastline that are eroding significantly. Councils will also be drawing the survey results to the attention of other owners of defences in their areas. The Ministry will be discussing the survey results with the coast protection authorities in order to prioritise the necessary remedial works.771W