Ministers are being urged to stump up more money to protect Norfolk's crumbling coastline - and to change how they allocate cash to take into account the impact erosion has on tourism.

Leading councillors said the way the government currently calculates how much money areas get to tackle erosion means Norfolk does not get its fair share - at a time when people have lost their homes to collapsing cliffs.

They say the formula used to award funding needs to better recognise how important tourism is to communities, rather than simply focusing cash on where the most homes are at risk.

Fakenham & Wells Times: Erosion in HemsbyErosion in Hemsby (Image: Mike Page)

Conservative councillors criticised their own government - and their own MPs - for not doing enough to safeguard the county.

A motion that the council should write to environment secretary Therese Coffey, who represents Suffolk Coastal, asking for changes was agreed at a meeting of the full council - with cross-party support.

Fakenham & Wells Times: Conservative county councillor James BenslyConservative county councillor James Bensly (Image: Archant)

It was tabled by James Bensly, Tory county councillor for East Flegg. He said: "Tourism needs to be recognised in the formula when the higher authorities are making decisions in where to help and where not to.

"I realise we cannot have a blanket wall all the way along the Norfolk coast, but certain communities need a little bit more attention than others when you take tourism into consideration."

READ MORE: What will happen to businesses hit by coastal erosion?

Fakenham & Wells Times: Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough CouncilCarl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council (Image: Newsquest)

'Devastating' impact

Fellow Conservative councillor Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said he had seen the "devastating" impact of coastal erosion on communities such as at Hemsby, where people lost their homes.

High spring tides and gale-force winds wreaked havoc in the coastal village earlier this year, with properties left precariously perched on the edge having to be demolished.

Fakenham & Wells Times: Homes in Hemsby were demolished because they were in danger of collapseHomes in Hemsby were demolished because they were in danger of collapse (Image: Press Association)

Mr Smith said: "What we are asking for is the government to look at how they allocate funding. They will allocate funding where there's heavy density of people and properties, but what we are looking at, especially along the coast with tourism, is the economy that brings in.

"Hemsby alone brings in £80m each year into the borough, of a total of £700m Great Yarmouth brings into the tourism economy."

READ MORE: Hemsby erosion: Pictures show 30 years of devastation

Mr Smith said about £20m would allow defences to be put in to protect Hemsby and the businesses based there.

Fakenham & Wells Times: Conservative county councillor Stuart ClancyConservative county councillor Stuart Clancy (Image: Archant © 2012)

Stuart Clancy, Conservative councillor for Taverham, said: "This motion is very, very important. It's important to Hemsby, it's important to Great Yarmouth and it's important to Norfolk.

"MPs are the people not doing enough. We've got a situation where the unelected, unaccountable quango the Environment Agency also aren't doing enough and Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) aren't doing enough.

Fakenham & Wells Times: Erosion in HemsbyErosion in Hemsby (Image: Mike Page)

"Government consistently fails to address these issues. Managed retreat is not an option for Norfolk.

"We have to lobby our MPs hard. We have to make the Environment Agency work hard for us, we need to make Defra work for us."

'Abandoned by the government'

The motion was backed by councillors from other political parties.

Fakenham & Wells Times: Labour county councillor Colleen WalkerLabour county councillor Colleen Walker (Image: Archant)

Colleen Walker, Labour councillor for Great Yarmouth's Magdalen division, said: "I look at what's happening in Hemsby in particular and it is heartbreaking."

Liberal Democrat Lucy Shires, who represents North Walsham East, said coastal communities felt "abandoned by the government".

Fakenham & Wells Times: Liberal Democrat county councillor Lucy ShiresLiberal Democrat county councillor Lucy Shires (Image: Archant)

Green Catherine Rowett, who represents West Depwade, said her group supported the motion but questioned if the Conservatives fully grasped to extent of the threat to the county from rising sea levels.

 

What the government says

The government says it already provides a 'fair and consistent approach' for allocating grants and that tourism was a consideration.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said north Norfolk was already getting extra protection after it was picked to benefit from a slice of a £36m fund.

A Defra spokesperson said: "We recognise the threat from climate change and sea level rise, which is why we are investing a record £5.2bn investment over six years in flood and coastal erosion schemes to better protect thousands of properties.
 
“As part of the government’s £200m flood and coast innovation programme, £36m is being invested to explore innovative approaches of adapting to the effects of coastal erosion through the Coastal Transition Accelerator Programme, which will help support coastal communities, like those in the north Norfolk, to prepare and plan for the long term in the face of a changing coastline."