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Coastal Erosion

Volume 712: debated on Monday 20 July 2009


My right honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Planning (John Healey) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today publishing a consultation on proposals for new Planning Policy on Development and Coastal Change, and I am placing copies of the consultation in the Library of the House.

Coastal communities have historically adapted to the changing coastline as sea levels have risen steadily since the end of the last ice-age. However, on the basis of the latest projections provided by UKCP091, climate change is likely to exacerbate erosion and coastal flooding with rising sea levels and a potential increase in the intensity, severity and frequency of coastal storms over the next 100 years

Government are committed to managing the impact of coastal erosion and flooding in a sustainable manner, and this includes ensuring that our spatial planning policies support communities that are resilient to the risks presented by climate change.

Strong planning policy to manage coastal flooding is already in place through Planning Policy Statement 25. However, currently planning decisions in relation to coastal erosion risks are made with reference to Planning Policy Guidance note 20, which adopts a strongly precautionary approach, restricting any development in areas at risk of coastal erosion. This means that even appropriate development that would support the economic and social viability of a coastal town or village is unable to go ahead.

To deal with this, the proposed Development and Coastal Change policy aims to strike a better balance between economic prosperity and the need for further defence of the coastline, alongside reducing the consequences of coastal change on communities.

The draft policy promotes a strategic risk-based approach to managing future physical changes to the coastline, so that long-term adaptation of communities can be planned while allowing necessary development that is appropriate and safe. It will also introduce a more co-ordinated approach to planning and investment at the coast, ensuring that spatial strategies to deliver regeneration and sustainable economic development take proper account of the impact of physical processes affecting the coastline and decisions regarding the planning and management of coastal defences.

This consultation forms part of a wider package of actions being taken forward to deliver the Government’s sustainable flood and coastal risk management approach set out in the “Making Space for Water” strategy. The Coastal Change Policy framework, which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defra announced for consultation on 15 June, provides a package of policy measures to help coastal communities and local authorities manage and adapt to the increasing risk of coastal flooding and erosion.

The proposed changes I am setting out today will play a part in assisting coastal communities in adapting to the impacts of climate change and facilitating economic activity in coastal areas. The consultation closes on 12 October 2009.

1 The UK Climate Projections 2009, published 18 June 2009.