In the last APPG meeting organised by CoastNet, Ian Pearson – Minister of State for Climate Change and the Environment – expressed interest in extending the debate on the issue of compensation for those affected by coastal flooding and erosion in the UK.
Having visited various affected areas throughout the country, the MP highlighted the need for social justice, claiming people’s homes and towns have to be protected.
Overall, the Minister considered the key to adaptation to climate change is through a win-win approach that takes into account both social, economic and environmental interests and costs when it comes to managing coastal erosion and flood threat.
Keen to work in partnership with local authorities, Pearson pointed out the need for the Environment Agency’s strategic role in the process. However, participants demanded effective public consultation together with an Integrated Coastal Management Policy that could provide criteria for political decisions to be made whilst using planning tools such as Shoreline Management Plans.
“Although funding for erosion and flooding management has increased by 35% since 1997 there is still a long way to go”, the Minister suggested public finance initiatives (PFI’s) would be worth considering. Regardless, Pearson suggested the need for a long term funding scheme– “a 20 year investment strategy concerning all aspects of water management”.
These statements answered a few of the questions raised by the various stakeholders in the audience, most with different interests and points of view, coming from governmental organizations (Natural England and English Heritage among others), NGOs (such as Coastal Concern Action Group or the Wildlife Link), researchers and independent consultants.
The Minister expressed his readiness to engage with affected communities and a genuine interest in continuing the debate to tackle issues such as how to take into account social justice, specifically compensation issues.
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