Wessex Flood & Coast Risk Manager, Environment Agency, Rivers House, East Quay, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 4YS
T: 01278 484770
For the Environment Agency there is something in the adage about “adversity is the motherhood of invention” as we faced an impossible task of reconciling the widening financial gap between the need to find funding for both sustaining existing coastal flood and erosion defences and the need to invest in new defences to meet increased sea level rise and climate change on the coast.
It was recognised that our existing grant system meant that a shrinking national pot could only be allocated to a few lucky applicants, leaving too many communities facing a funding drought for the foreseeable future. This also had the unintended consequence of impacting on planning options for many communities. In response we developed a “partnership grant system” that allowed authorities and third parties to either top up any grant or reduce the implementation costs which then gave access to vital national Flood & Coast Risk Management funds. What has proved to be a “win win” situation for many communities.
Whilst the need to account for flood and coast erosion in the planning process may be seen by some as a constraint we know from our studies that each pound spent on defences brings many more pounds to the local economy and inspires confidence to invest. In my talk I will give examples of locations, such as Poole, Weston Super mere, etc where we have successfully worked with planning authorities, third parties and communities to come up with solutions that protect existing properties at risk and allow sustainable growth to take place.
During my talk I will share my passion for the section of coast that I manage also the need to provide quality data to help society value their local environment that then helps make informed decision. Behind all of this is the need to form effective partnerships.