Coastal Strategy Scrutiny Review
At its meeting on 18 July, 2016, the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee referred the Scrutiny Review on the Coastal Strategy to the Cabinet. A covering report, Overview and Scrutiny Committee minute and Scrutiny Review are attached.
Councillor Phillip Brightmore, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said:
“Effectively managing flood risk is essential to protect our coastal communities and our Coastal Strategy plays a key role in this.
I am grateful to the Members of all parties who took part in this scrutiny review and I believe the insight they have provided will prove extremely valuable as we continue our work in this area.
I am pleased to support all of the four key recommendations arising from this report for endorsement by Cabinet.”
Councillor Mike Sullivan, who had chaired the Task & Finish Group, introduced the report which set out the findings of a review which had been conducted, following the Wirral Coastal Strategy Scrutiny which had been presented to the former Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee. The purpose of this Review had been to examine how the Council would deliver the Coastal Strategy with a focus on how coastal defence would be delivered in areas that required intervention in the short term.
The Review linked to the Wirral Plan for 2020 and in particular the pledge under the Environment theme to ensure that ‘Wirral’s neighbourhoods are safe.’
The report identified that funding was a key issue for the delivery of coastal defence schemes and recommended that all viable funding opportunities should be explored to support scheme delivery, prior to consideration of internal capital bids. The report also recognised the value of Local Levy as an alternative funding source for scheme delivery and recommended support for approval of annual increases in contributions.
The theme of maximising opportunities in relation to funding was also detailed in the report to ensuring coastal defence schemes tied in, where possible, to regeneration opportunities. Awareness of flood and coastal erosion risk was also highlighted and it was acknowledged that Members had an important role to play in engaging with Wirral’s residents and businesses in raising awareness of the risk.
Councillor Sullivan reminded the Cabinet that Wirral was a peninsula with 42 kilometres of river and coastal defences. He informed that in 2010 the policies for how the Council managed these defences had been set out in the Shoreline Management Plan which had been approved by the Cabinet. However, it was noted that policies could only be applied if there was a strategy for their implementation.
The Wirral Coastal Strategy looked at how policies for coastal defence could be delivered over the lifetime of the Plan (which was 100 years). The Strategy considered implementation in the short term (up to 2010), the medium term (2030 to 2060) and the longer term (to 2110). Climate change was taken into account along with the recommended management of coastal defences changes over the course of the next 100 years.
The Coastal Strategy looked carefully at all the issues around coastal defence, including social, environmental and economic factors and identified a preferred sustainable management action to deliver policy. This might be, for example, to continue with the existing maintenance or construct defences to an improved standard at some point in the future. Funding available would be a factor in determining what to do.
Councillor Sullivan reported that the Strategy provided a strong framework for the management of flood and erosion risk at the coast and also identified recommendations where investment and intervention was needed in the short term to ensure risk to people and property was managed effectively. By doing this the Coastal Strategy helped to deliver the 2020 Environment theme pledge in the Wirral Plan that ‘Wirral’s neighbourhoods are safe’.
The Cabinet noted that the Coastal Strategy also acknowledged the likely difficulties in securing funding for future coastal defence schemes given current funding arrangements for Grant Aid and that it was always important to keep a look out for funding opportunities.
The Task & Finish Review had investigated the challenges that lay ahead in delivering the Coastal Strategy and had concluded with the following recommendations:
· That all viable funding opportunities should be explored to support the delivery of schemes prior to consideration of internal capital bids. It was also recommended that Local Levy could provide a source for this funding and as such support should be given for annual increases in contributions to this funding source.
· Furthermore, where coastal defence schemes could be tied-in to regeneration opportunities, then this may help maximise funding opportunities so should be encouraged.
· Finally, the review concluded that raising awareness of flood and coastal erosion risk would help communities better prepare for the challenges ahead and that Members had a role to play in engaging with residents in support of this. Communication with the public was vital. It was incumbent on all Members to be aware of the issues and to inform their constituents.
Councillor Sullivan thanked the following Officers for the help and support they had given to the Task & Finish Group to scope and carry out its review and compile its report, recommendations and conclusions:
· Mark Smith – Strategic Commissioner – Environment
· Neil Thomas – Team Leader, Environmental Services, Highway Assets
· Mike Lester – Scrutiny Officer, Performance and Scrutiny
Councillor Sullivan also thanked the other two Members of the Task & Finish Group, Councillors John Hale and Dave Mitchell for their contributions.
Councillor Phil Brightmore informed the Cabinet that he considered the Coastal Strategy Scrutiny Review Final Report to be excellent and he proposed that the Cabinet support its recommendations to put the Strategy in place.
(1) the findings of the Review be noted and the Members of all parties that took part in the Review be thanked for their hard work; and
(2) the four key Recommendations set out in the Coastal Strategy Scrutiny Review Final Report be endorsed.
- Minute Extract -Env OS Cttee - Coastal Strategy, item 18. PDF 48 KB
- Coastal Strategy Cabinet Briefing, item 18. PDF 119 KB
- Appendix 1 - Coastal Strategy Scrutiny Review Report, 18/07/2016 Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, item 18. PDF 297 KB