Headlines: January 5th, 2007



A Devon local authority is among the organisations that will run pilot schemes designed to push the boundaries of policy on flooding and coastal erosion. South Hams District Council will lead a project to develop and implement a sustainable community-based adaptation programme for the coast at Slapton Sands. The six pilots have been announced by the Minister for Climate Change and Environment Ian Pearson.

A total of 1.5 million pounds is being made available to the projects over the next three years from the Innovation Fund, which was launched in November 2005. The pilot schemes are part of the Making Space for Water programme, a cross-government strategy that takes a long-term approach to flood and coastal erosion risk management. The Slapton Coastal Zone Adaptation Plan, being run by the council on behalf of the Slapton Line Partnership will get 245,000 pounds.

The Sands are a five-kilometer long shingle beach, behind which is a nature reserve. As well as having several environmental and heritage conservation designations and being a popular visitor destination, the area is an important transport link. The A379 road runs along the beach-head linking Dartmouth and Kingsbridge as well as a number of villages. The Sands are vulnerable to coastal erosion, and the road was closed for several months following storms in 2001. New studies have suggested that defending the road from future erosion by engineered intervention is not economically or environmentally feasible but with limited realignment the road could survive at least another 30 years.

South Hams Council will lead a project to work with the local community to produce a long-term adaptation programme to manage the response to coastal change creatively and positively. The five other projects will consider a range of issues, including the role that trees and farmland can play in cutting the risk of flooding.

Ian Pearson said it was not possible to hide from the consequences of climate change and the pilots would test out new approaches to deal with flooding and coastal erosion. “These pilots will see whether we can push the boundaries of policy and test the potential of whether these innovative ideas can form part of our mainstream policy and delivery,” he said.