HC Deb 30 March 2004 vol 419 cc1298-9W
Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are being taken to improve coastal defences in East Anglia. [163615]

Mr. Morley

I understand that over the next 10 years the Environment Agency (EA) is planning to spend about £70 million on coastal defence projects on the East Anglian coast to provide increased protection to some 25,000 residential properties.

The EA is carrying out significant works at Hunstanton to Heacham; Happisburgh to Winterton; Great Yarmouth; Felixstowe; and Tilbury. Defra is also grant aiding Waveney district council for major works to protect against coastal erosion on Corton seafront, north of Lowestoft, and will consider applications from coast protection authorities for other works that meet the Department's criteria for funding.

Five Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) cover the East Anglian coast. These are all to be reviewed and second generation SMPs produced by 2008. SMPs are high-level plans that recommend policies for flood defence and coastal protection for the future. They take account of erosion and pressures on existing defences and the need to work more in keeping with natural processes. They outline the management policy for each area of the coastline for the next 100 years, and will provide predictions of the implications of these policies over the next 20, 50 and 100 years. The first of these, SMP3b covering the coast from Kelling to Lowestoft Ness, is currently being developed by North Norfolk district council as the lead authority, along with the EA and Great Yarmouth borough council. The draft policies for this SMP will be available for consultation later this year.

Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was(a) allocated to and (b) spent on coastal defence in each of the last five years. [163616]

Mr. Morley

The flood and coastal defence operating authorities promote schemes within the constraints of Defra funding criteria so funds are not specifically set aside for coastal defences as such.

The original Defra grant allocations to the operating authorities (Environment Agency (EA), local authorities (LAs) and internal drainage boards (IDBs)) for capital improvement of defences against flooding, both coastal and otherwise, and coastal erosion for each of the last five years, and the outturn are as follows:

£ million
Allocation Outturn
Environment Agency 31.0 33.5
Local Authorities 21.9 25.0
Internal Drainage Boards 0.25 0.4
Environment Agency 28.8 31.8
Local Authorities 26.9 26.0
Internal Drainage Boards 0.25 0.6
£ million
Allocation Outturn
Environment Agency 27.0 26.4
Local Authorities 27.0 13.9
Internal Drainage Boards 0.5 0.2
Environment Agency 44.0 38.5
Local Authorities 31.0 10.9
Internal Drainage Boards 2.1 1.3
Environment Agency 61.0 66.2
Local Authorities 23.0 30.7
Internal Drainage Boards 3.0 1.7

In addition to capital grants, Defra has provided LAs with borrowing cover for the net of grant costs of capital works and EA with contributions to national initiatives and costs incurred in relation to the autumn 2000 floods.

Mr. Gummer

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will provide an updated version of the point-scoring system used to decide upon priorities for coastal protection. [163753]

Mr. Morley

The Department's priority scoring system for the funding of flood defence and coast protection capital works was introduced in 1997 and revised in the light of experience following extensive consultation. The new system became operational from April 2003. There is no intended bias against coastal erosion schemes in the new system. If any unintended bias emerged the Department would be willing to consider changes to the system. Officials have agreed to hold a workshop with representatives of coast protection authorities to consider whether alternative approaches could inform the allocation process in future years.