EVEN THOUGH the specific challenges facing coastal communities are unlikely to be addressed by the general election campaign, and the Brexit fault lines which are already emerging, it is clear that they are facing a perfect storm.
A failure by successive governments to put in place robust plans to combat erosion, and help protect resorts from rising sea levels as a consequence of climate change, makes it harder to attract the jobs and investment that towns like Scarborough, Bridlington, Whitby and Hornsea desperately need.
And while political leaders here do, in fairness, recognise the challenges – and opportunities – that exist along the Yorkshire coast, the indifference of Defra – and lack of Government funding – is making it harder to advance plans to regenerate these areas in order to reduce their over-dependency on the welfare system.
This much is clear from today’s stark report by Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee which concludes: “Funding is a key issue. There needs to be much more clarity about how the Government will fund coastal adaption.”
It also urges Ministers to be far more specific about their plans to attract more funding from the private sector as concerns persist about the low-key approach being pursued by Theresa Villiers, Boris Johnson’s odd choice to be Environment Secretary.
More than 100 days into her post, she’s done very little to impress farmers – and she’s certainly done nothing to convince people living in coastal towns, areas with above-average levels of deprivation, that she’s on their side and understands the relevant issues.
As such, there is, perhaps, a strong case to be made for a dedicated Minister for the Coast to be appointed in the next government to ensure that the country’s once cherished resorts are not left all at sea by Defra’s current political indifference and inertia.