Sea flood defence cost fears raised

LOCAL coastal communities could be forced to pay millions funding sea defences due to ‘extremely dangerous’ planning approvals of floodplain developments, county councillors fear.

East Lindsey District Council has been heavily criticised for its approval of the Lindum Group’s application to build 180 homes and a supermarket in Mablethorpe.

Lincolnshire County Councillors Colin Davie and Eddy Poll fear this decision could not only endanger lives but will send a message to the government, resulting in coastal taxpayers having to fund costly sea defence schemes.

Coun Poll said: “Allowing this development on a floodplain puts us in an awkward financial position because it demonstrates to the government that we are prepared to build homes in a dangerous area and so it is likely to ask for us to pay for the sea defences protecting them.”

The Environment Agency spends up to £7.5million of government money every year protecting the Lincolnshire coast through the Lincshore beach nourishment project.

This project including its funding is up for review next month and recommendations could require local communities to contribute towards the costs.

LCC has opposed this funding change, arguing that flood defences are a national issue which should be funded accordingly but Coun Davie fears the district council’s planning decision will ‘weaken’ this argument.

He said: “This permission is extremely dangerous and affects our whole coastline, since it weakens the county council’s argument that all future sea defences requirements should be funded by national taxation.

“We are waging a campaign to ensure our sea defences are properly funded from London but I fear this decision will ultimately lead to increased council tax charges for coastal residents and punitive 106 agreements for large scale business development as the government makes local communities, as beneficiaries, pay for their own defences.”

Although LCC objected to Lindum’s planning application and referred it to the home secretary Eric Pickles, he made no objections and left the decision to the local planning authority - a move which Coun Davie describes as ‘perverse and contrary to its own recently published planning framework.”

ELDC has defended its decision, which it says complies with the Coastal Study - a scheme the county council has also endorsed.

Portfolio Holder for Planning and the Economy, Councillor Craig Leyland, said: “In considering such applications the Planning Authority will include all relevant bodies in the consultation process and will consider, for example, any mitigations that developers may propose to address any concerns raised by the potential for flooding.

“In the case of the proposed development at Mablethorpe, such mitigation measures were scrutinised by, amongst others, the Environment Agency who agreed that they were sufficient to offset any concerns in this area.

“Despite such criticisms, the Planning Authority will continue to address such matters seriously and will seek to balance the issue of flooding with a viable economic future for our communities along the coast.”