Rural homes saved from sea

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) welcomes the news that the Environment Agency‘s plans to surrender the Norfolk Broads to the sea have been abandoned.

Natural England had helped with plans for withdrawing maintenance from 15 miles of coastal defences, allowing about 25 square miles of the Norfolk Broads to flood. This would have affected hundreds of homes and businesses in the area.

However, following a CLA visit to the area with the head of Defra’s flood management division and a high-level meeting in London, the proposal has been dropped.

Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, president of the CLA, says: ‘We are delighted that this terrible plan has been abandoned. The proposal would have resulted in the loss of six villages and valuable farmland.

‘Our argument has always been to protect a precious resource—our land. It is simply barmy to flood large areas of the country when future food security, against the background of climate change, is such an issue.

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‘As 57% of this country’s Grade One agricultural land is less than five metres above sea level, we need to at least maintain sea defences and ensure farmland, businesses and residences are kept intact. To do anything else is simply irresponsible.

The CLA has recently said that flood-defence policy and water-resource management in East Anglia should be reassessed in light of damning predictions from the Government’s chief scientific advisor, Prof John Beddington.

Prof Beddington claimed that the problems of a growing global population coming out of poverty would be exacerbated by climate change, resulting in international food and water shortages in 20 years’ time, and increased food and energy prices in Britain.

Nicola Currie, eastern region director of the CLA, said: ‘Can we really afford to lose land that was reclaimed from the sea in a bid to become self-sufficient in food after the last world war? Measures taken now to maintain flood defences will pay off in the future.

‘The eastern region is one of the most important areas of this country for food production, especially of arable crops. Prof Beddington’s chilling predictions must be acted upon to ensure that our efficient agriculture is not only supported but encouraged to grow and improve.’

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