West Norfolk farmer urges government to commit to improving coastal defences

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A West Norfolk farmer is urging parliamentary candidates to support a campaign urging the next Government to commit to improving coastal defences around The Wash.

Gavin Lane, one of four shareholders at Admiral’s Farm on Terrington Marsh, west of King’s Lynn, said there must be an urgent acknowledgement of the need to protect farms, homes and businesses in the area from any future threat of flooding.

Mr Lane, a member of the Wash Frontagers’ Group which comprises of 68 farmers and landowners along the coastline from Hunstanton to Skegness, said: “After more than 30 years of little or no major expenditure on the sea defences, we must have Government backing after the General Election to protect the Fenland area for all people and businesses, not just for today but for the generations to come.

“We saw the 2013 tidal surge over-top them and cause considerable damage to farmland along the Wash coast. What would happen if another, just slightly higher tidal surge broke the banks altogether and caused severe and long term damage to our towns, villages, power supplies and roads?

“The Wash Frontagers’ Group has had strong support from the NFU and the CLA, and from the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Boards and Local Authorities around The Wash. With their help, we plan to start improving our coastal flood defences – starting with the defences most at risk.

“We’re urging politicians to support this plan and acknowledge that we must begin to take practical, physical steps to enhance the sea defences around the Wash, a total length of about 80km. We will show them why we need action and quickly, to ensure that farms, homes and businesses in the low-lying fenland area around the Wash are protected.

“We estimate that the value of local agriculture and its upward supply chain is £3billion plus and it supports in excess of 60,000 jobs in the Fens.

“Add to this the thousands of homes, non-farming businesses, the roads, railways and power infrastructure that would be severely damaged by a seawater inundation, and we can all see that we need a major civil engineering project to raise the sea defences.”