North Norfolk communities to trial innovative ways of adapting to coastal erosion

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Date published: 26th March 2022

As part of the Government’s £200 million flood and coast innovation programme, North Norfolk will receive part of a £36 million investment to explore innovative approaches of adapting to the effects of coastal erosion.

Known as the Coastal Transition Accelerator Programme, North Norfolk District Council will receive funding to help its communities on areas of the coast that cannot sustainably be defended from coastal erosion.

Residents will be supported to prepare and plan for the long term, while also trialling some immediate actions that support the long-term resilience of communities near the coast. 

Such interventions might include:

  • improving and replacing damaged community infrastructure, such as beach access or coastal transport links and replacing public or community owned buildings in areas at risk with removable, modular, or other innovative buildings
  • repurposing land in coastal erosion zones for different uses such as temporary car parks and restoring and creating habitats to include green buffer zones
  • working with the finance and property sectors to explore innovative finance or funding mechanisms to help move communities from the highest risk areas, for instance schemes to incentivise the relocation of at-risk infrastructure for businesses and homeowners
  • developing the local planning system so it supports and facilitates the managed transition of communities from high-risk land and ensuring it restricts future development in areas affected by coastal erosion

The Environment Agency will manage the programme, supporting the area as it develops and delivers its local projects. It will also ensure that ongoing learning is shared with other areas facing similar challenges.

Floods Minister Rebecca Pow said:

“As climate change brings more extreme weather, we must redouble our efforts to build a more resilient nation. We have ramped up flood and coastal erosion policies, and we will always defend our coastline where it is sustainable and sensible to do so. Where it isn’t we will support communities to adapt.

“What we are announcing today will support innovative solutions to help those areas most vulnerable to coastal erosion to prepare and adapt.”   

The programme will run to March 2027, exploring and testing innovative opportunities. A full evaluation of the programme will help to inform future national policy direction and will add to our coastal resilience activity elsewhere, which includes a national coastal erosion risk map providing clearer data about local risks to help local planning, and the ongoing national refresh of existing Shoreline Management Plans.

This is in addition to the record £5.2 billion being invested in flood and coastal defences between 2021 and 2027, building around 2,000 new flood defences to better protect 336,000 properties from flooding and coastal erosion.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said:

“England’s coastline has never been static. Today, 9,000 kilometres of open English coast is at risk from sea flooding, erosion and landslips, and by 2100 once-a-century sea level events are set to become annual events.

“As a minimum, we need to plan for at least a metre rise of sea level rise by the end of the century. In some places the pace and scale of change may be so significant that, over a period of time, coastal authorities will need to help local communities transition away from the current shoreline over time.

“This programme is about providing that local support while increasing the whole country’s expertise and resilience in the face of climate and coastal change.”

North Norfolk will benefit from the funding alongside East Riding of Yorkshire. These two locations are already living with the challenges of coastal erosion and between them include 84% of the properties at risk of coastal erosion in England over the next 20 years.

Councillor Tim Adams, Leader of North Norfolk District Council, said:

“This new initiative is going to build on our previous experiences and actions in meeting the constant challenge of coastal erosion in North Norfolk, to help us to continue to work together with our local communities and shape a positive future alongside those most at erosion risk. 

“We will be exploring practical actions which can be done now and in years to come, aided by this support from the CTAP programme.”

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