Call for action over Lincolnshire's 'crumbling' flood defences

Councillors are calling for a united front against flooding after concerns were raised about the Lincolnshire coast’s ‘crumbling defences’.
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Kiosks along the promenade in Skegness have had their flood barriers up since autumn last year and on three occasions the sea came close to them in spite of there being no high spring tide, according to flood warden, councillor Malcom Gabbitas.

In recent weeks, the sea also came within a yard of the flood gate near the RNLI Lifeboat Station in Tower Esplanade.

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This is in spite of an annual £7 million replenishment of sand on the beaches by the Environment Agency (EA) as part of its sea defences strategy.

Flood warden Coun Malcom Gabbitas by rock sea defences in Skegness that are covered with sand.Flood warden Coun Malcom Gabbitas by rock sea defences in Skegness that are covered with sand.
Flood warden Coun Malcom Gabbitas by rock sea defences in Skegness that are covered with sand.

However, Coun Gabbitas said the scheme is not working and “a waste of money”. Flooding is no longer a “one in 100 years occurrence”, he warned.

“With the sea level rising, every big tide we are getting is coming straight over the beach,” he said.

“The dry lagoon is full and the walkway past the lifeguard station has about a foot of water covering it.

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“The Environment Agency has been putting sand on the beaches since 1994 but the sand moves with the tide from north to south taking it away from the flood defence and leaving it exposed and the salt water is eroding the concrete - the defences are crumbling.

“I can't see these flood defences lasting more than five to 10 years and that will be it.

“We've got this month to go with high tides and next.”

At February’s Skegness Town Council meeting, there was support for a motion that the council should seek to work with town and parish councils along the coast and those in low lying inland areas that would be affected by flooding, to “create an action group”.

It was also resolved to declare interest in being part of another partnership involving LCC, ELDC, Lindsay Marsh Drainage Board and the Environment Agency, brought to their attention by Coun Carl Macey, who reported that, on that very day, there had been a government announcement of a £17 million fund to address the defences issue. Should Devolution go ahead in Lincolnshire, a mayor would also have some influence in pressing for more money for defences, Coun Macey pointed out.

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MP for Skegness and Boston Matt Warman said he supported the partnership at a recent flood resilience forum in Wainfleet and added the Government was exploring with the Environment Agency what future coastal defences might look like.

He requested an update from the EA who said: “Lincolnshire Coast 2100+ is a vital partnership project stepping towards a sustainable future for the people of Lincolnshire who face the increased threat of tidal flooding due to climate change.

“By 2100, sea levels are expected to rise by over one metre which could devastate thousands of homes and businesses already at risk unless we start work now. To inform sustainable flood risk management for the next 100 years, the partnership will consider the long-term vision for our coast and the associated investment plan to deliver it. Much of this work will be funded by a contribution from Nuclear Waste Services with some grant in aid funding from government.”