26 October 2001
Sea to reclaim record farmland area

By Adrienne Francis

THE largest area of farmland to date is being abandoned to the sea under the governments “managed retreat” scheme.

Some 78ha (193 acres) of land will be allowed to revert to salt marsh at Freiston Shore on the Lincolnshire coast.

The 800,000 Boston Wash Banks initiative was launched on Friday (26 October) after receiving funding from the European Union.

Prisoners from HM Prison North Sea Camp once farmed the land, which is now managed by English Nature and the RSPB.

The project is a partnership between the RSPB, Boston and Lincolnshire councils, and the Environment Agency.

Lincolnshire Environment Agency project manager Chris Allwork said the scheme would be a catalyst for economic regeneration and tourism.

“Retreat management has been the best option in this case, and other sites have been proposed at Humber Estuary in North Lincolnshire.”

In some other areas, the fight to defend land against the sea continues. More than 400 million is spent each year on flood and coastal defences in England.

A new 31.4m scheme was announced on Thursday (25 October).

Countryside Minister Elliot Morley said the money would be used to improve coastal defences along 8.5km of coastline in north Norfolk.

“The need for works was highlighted by the severe weather in September, which damaged defences in the area and caused residents to be evacuated.

“Our agreement underlines the governments commitment to defending lives and property against flooding in the long term.”

The Department for Environment, Health and Rural Affairs has approved 10m of work over three years and attracted a further 4.5m grant.

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