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Coastal Protection

Volume 407: debated on Tuesday 24 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who is responsible for the long-term monitoring and management of compensatory sites for coastal protection purposes. [120462]

The authority that issues a consent for coastal defence works, which require compensatory measures to address a negative impact on nature conservation interests, will also have the responsibility for ensuring that adequate compensation is provided and maintained. In most instances the consenting authority will be either the local planning authority or the Environment Agency.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what representations she has received from Lancaster city council regarding progress with the Morecambe Coastal Defence Scheme; [120463](2) if she will make a statement on progress with the Morecambe Coastal Protection Scheme. [120464]

Defra provides funding for coastal defence schemes which meet specified criteria, but responsibility for deciding which projects to promote and their timing rests with local authorities. Defra has paid Lancaster city council some £10.5 million in grant for the first five phases of their coastal defence works at Morecambe. The council has yet to submit applications for funding of further phases of work there. However, I am fully aware that the council are concerned about the time it is taking them to identify habitat compensatory measures for the proposed works as required by the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) Regulations 1994. Defra is seeking to assist the council by grant aiding studies to identify possible compensatory sites.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what meetings have taken place between the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and English Nature regarding the Morecambe Coastal Protection Scheme. [120465]

There have been many exchanges over the years between interested bodies, including Defra and English Nature, on the various phases of Lancaster city council's Morecambe Coastal Protection Scheme. Most recently meetings were held between the council, Defra, English Nature and the Environment Agency on 18 February and 21 May 2003 with the purpose of clarifying the steps necessary for the council to progress the next phases of the scheme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect on flooding in Morecambe of delay to the Coastal Protection Scheme. [120466]

Responsibility for assessing flood risk rests with local operating authorities rather than Defra. However I understand that the Environment Agency recently undertook a strategic flood risk assessment of their north-west region and concluded that Morecambe was one of the highest flood risk locations. No doubt Lancaster city council are taking this into account in progressing their proposed coastal defence works. For our part, Defra will consider any applications for funding such works as speedily as possible as soon as they are received.