A SUMMIT to discuss coastal erosion on Walney revealed there is funding to help solve the problem – but residents left the meeting with contrasting emotions.
Representatives from the Environment Agency told Friday’s 90-minute meeting in Barrow Town Hall the government had set aside £680,000 to tackle the problem.
But matched funding of £200,000 must be found in order for that money to be made available by Defra.
Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock called and chaired the meeting to bring together the various people involved with the issue.
After the meeting, he told the Evening Mail the matched funding would realistically have to come from Barrow Borough Council and the land owner of West Shore Park caravan site – one of the parts of Walney threatened with erosion.
The Labour MP said the meeting had been positive, but added: “I have severe reservations about the new funding arrangements being imposed on flood-risk areas like this.
“The fact that substantial amounts have to be raised shows how out of touch the government are with the funding pressures on communities.”
Mr Woodcock said another meeting should be convened inside six months.
Paul Brindle, West Shore Park owner, told the Evening Mail: “It’s been encouraging.”
Barry Threlfall, West Shore Park Community Association secretary, was pleased with how the meeting went, but stressed it was important for targets to be met to ensure continued progress.
He told the meeting: “Listening to everybody around the table, it seems as though something positive is coming out of this.
“We’ve been on with it for six or seven years and I know we’ve got to get over the funding issue, but at least it seems it’s coming from some direction.”
Other residents were less satisfied and felt assurances had only been given to West Shore Park.
Simon Mulgrew, of South End Farm, Walney, said: “I suppose the people from the north end might be pleased, but it’s not doing a single thing for us – nothing.
“Biggar Village is in the same position as us, there’s nothing coming forward.
“Hundreds of thousands must have been spent over the years on the strategy of the shore management, and yet there’s no sea defences whatsoever.”
Graham Parker, chairman of the Biggar Village Residents’ Association, said: “We’re not any further on than we were. We’ve seen the entire funding go in the direction of West Shore Park.
“The rest of Walney is also eroding, including an area called Middle Hills, which is opposite Biggar Village.
“There’s an urgency for a sea defence at Middle Hills of about 300/400 yards and nothing has been done about it, despite the fact we’ve got £680,000 off Defra – it’s all going to the caravan site.”
Story in the North West Evening Mail