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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 November 2007, 16:12 GMT
Coastal defences 'not abandoned'
Residents push a shopping trolley full of sandbags
East Anglians prepared for floods before last week's storm surge
The government has denied claims it has a "general" policy of allowing coastal villages to fall into the sea if deemed too costly to defend against flooding.

The rebuttal comes after reports that a coastal flooding and erosion risk assessment showed parts of England's east coast were beyond saving.

Ministers were reported to be willing to evacuate villages over the next 30 years if sea defence is too expensive.

A spokesperson said it was committed to "sustainable protection".

Doubled spending

The report follows the largest tidal surge to strike Britain in 50 years.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokesman said: "It is nonsense to suggest that the government has a general policy of abandoning coastal villages to the sea.

"The government is, however, committed to sustainable protection for people and property.

"That's why we have nearly doubled the spending on flood and coastal erosion risk management in cash terms, from 307m in 1996-97 to an estimated 600m in 2007-08. This will further increase to 800m in 2010-11."

Defra added that central government did not decide which areas are targeted for coastal defences, as the specific projects are submitted by local authorities.

In some parts we are letting the sea in, for example by creating flood marshes instead of building concrete walls
Environment Agency

The Sunday Telegraph reported that the leaked erosion study showed towns in Norfolk and Suffolk were likely to be abandoned to the sea.

The newspaper said the Environment Agency study, which is due to be published next June, uses a points-based system to establish which areas should be saved and which should not.

The Environment Agency said it would not abandon parts of the coast to the sea, but it was focusing on "managed realignment" which would work with nature rather than against it.

The agency said it would be both too expensive and inappropriate to "build a concrete wall around the whole coast".

An agency spokesman said: "In some parts we are letting the sea in, for example by creating flood marshes instead of building concrete walls."

According to the Sunday Telegraph, towns flagged for destruction include: the villages of Overstrand in Norfolk, Bawdsey in Suffolk, and Leysdown-on-Sea, in north-east Kent.



SEE ALSO
Surge floods hit wildlife havens
09 Nov 07 |  England
Tidal surge 'poses grave danger'
09 Nov 07 |  England
Minister urges calm over surge
08 Nov 07 |  UK Politics

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