Tuesday, May 06, 2008

MPs debate threat to Broads

MPs were set to debate the threat to the Upper Thurne and its broads today - as the head of the agency behind proposals to allow them to be flooded by the sea apologised.

Natural England is behind proposals to abandon coastal defences between Eccles and Wintertion, on the Norfok coast.

If adopted by central government, the move would mean the looss of Horsey Mere, Hickling Broad, the Martham broads and heigham Sound, along with hundreds of homes in six low-lying villages.

More than 1600 people have now signed a petition to save the Upper Thurne system, which includes some of Britain's most historically-important pike fisheries.

Today Dr David Viner, Natural England's chief specialist on the impacts of climate changes, said difficult choices would need to ba made. In an interview with the Eastern Daily Press, he said the agency was right to initiate a debate over the future of flood defences.

The Environment Agency believes it can keep the North Sea at bay for at least another 50 years.

But the defences cost £1.5m a year to maintain and some officials believe allowing the area to flood would help send out "the right message" about the severity of climate change.

Other options, ranging from strengthening sea defences to doing nothing have also been proposed.

The plans became public after a draft report - not intended to be published until September - was leaked to newspapers threee weeks ago.

Today MPs led my Mid Norfolk's Keith Simpson were set to challenge the government to come clean over its plans, in a 90-minute debate.

To read the interview with Dr Viner, click here.

To sign the petition, click here.