Fears of council tax rises to fund Lincolnshire flood defences

Sand dredging at Mablethorpe beach.
Sand dredging at Mablethorpe beach.

FEARS of a council tax increase to fund Lincolnshire coastal flood defences have been raised after a change of policy on how the schemes are paid for.

DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) is examining new ways of funding critical flood risk management projects which keep our coastal plains dry.

This could see local authorities benefitting from flood defences contributing directly, rather than general nationwide taxation.

Lincolnshire County Council have voiced their concerns over how a possible tax increase could burden already deprived communities in our area.

The Lincolnshire coast is currently flanked by 128km of raised sea defences protecting coastal plains, much of which lie at or below sea level.

The council warns of a possible 20 per cent increase in council tax for East Lindsey homes to pay for the current £7 million Lincshore project which dredges sand onto beaches including Mablethorpe to protect against tidal flooding. They say a £700,000 local contribution to this may need to be met by the 55,500 homes in the district.

Coun Eddy Poll, executive member for economic development at the county council, said: “The government believes local communities should be responsible for funding flood defence schemes. While this principle works for localised schemes, it is a blunt instrument when applied to deprived communities living in a location that contains significant national assets, such as the Lincolnshire coast.

“This local contribution would need to be raised by local councils. This might mean future increases in council tax if we can’t find sufficient funds to pay for the defences any other way. The county council feels it is unreasonable to place this additional burden on communities that are already deprived.”

The council also voiced fears that should the current defences cease to be maintained it would lead to permanent damage to a 1,500 square mile area which provides nearly 30 per cent of the UK’s field vegetable crop and a vast amount of livestock and poultry.

Lincolnshire is the largest single county contributor to agricultural production in England.

DEFRA have so far been unable to confirm that local councils will

be forced to foot the extra bills.

A spokesperson said: “We’ve reformed the funding system to allow more flood defences to be built and give greater choice and control to local people over how to protect their community.

“We expect to spend at least £2.1 billion on flooding and coastal erosion over the next four years. Flood defence funding is allocated according to the best value for money and this often means prioritising the protection of households and keeping residents safe.”

Do you agree with council tax rises to pay for flood defences? Email your views to sam.kinnaird@jpress.co.uk.

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