Farmers furious over plans to flood coast near Morecambe Bay

Four Lancashire dairy farms covering 1035 acres could disappear under the sea if the Environment Agency gives the go ahead for a shoreline management plan along the coast of Morecambe Bay.

The scheme, which will affect 10 farms in total and destroy 17 properties and four large caravan parks, is part of a review of sea defences along a stretch of north-west coastline south of Lancaster. The current sea-wall embankment runs for about five miles.

One of the farms that would be lost is John and Brenda Lawson’s Bank End Farm at Cockerham, which stands virtually on the shoreline of Morecambe Bay. This highly productive dairy farm carries around 350 cows.

“It’s unbelievable that someone has come up with a plan that will mean our farms and the future of our families will disappear under the sea and none of us has received a letter or a phone call so that we could at least be represented at the [planning] meetings,” said Mrs Lawson.

“The future of three generations of our family is now in jeopardy. How can you make any plans and invest in the farm when someone is planning on wiping out everything you’ve spent your life working for,” she added.

Local farmers have been incensed by the lack of consultation.

Even though the first official meeting to discuss the proposals to allow the sea to cover the four farms was held last September it was only a week ago that the farmers were given their first opportunity to put their case.

“We’ve now formed an action group to fight these proposals. The cost of building new sea defences along this stretch of coast would be around £6m,” said Mrs Lawson.

“The alternative is to spend £12m over 100 years to maintain the existing embankment and allow the farms to remain – and that has to be the common sense option,” she said.

Jonathan Croft, the EA’s coastal team leader, said discussions were still at an early stage and the agency was considering several options.

“We’re looking at this as a 20-year plan during which time we will evaluate various options. It may be that we decide to hold the existing line of the sea defences or advance the line. Discussions will be held during this time as we assess the situation,” said Mr Croft.

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