To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects a specific defence option to protect the salt marshes of Lymington from erosion to be approved; and if she will make a statement.
Defra has overall policy responsibility for flood and coastal erosion risk management in England. Defra funds most of the Environment Agency's flood management activities in England and provides grant aid on a project by project basis to the other flood and coastal defence operating authorities (local authorities and internal drainage boards) to support their investment in improvement projects to manage flood and coastal erosion risk. To qualify for Defra funding proposals must satisfy essential technical, economic and environmental criteria and achieve the relevant priority score" for the year in which work is programmed to start.
The Government encourages operating authorities to take a strategic approach to the provision of flood and coastal defences and they are required to consider a range of defence options. New Forest district council (NFDC), the local coast protection authority, is currently undertaking the West Solent Strategy Study and the area covered extends from Hurst Spit to Calshot Spit including the Lymington salt marsh. NFDC is, I understand, carrying out a public consultation exercise that will inform the options to be evaluated in the study.
NFDC's medium term plan includes work planned in Lymington where the council propose to reduce the rate of salt marsh erosion but I hope you understand that, until the West Solent Strategy Study is complete and until the council has submitted proposals for coast protection work in Lymington, I cannot comment on options for work.