By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
A long-term plan to make the most of Kent’s 350-mile coastline and the waters off it could be drawn up by KCC.
The council is considering formulating ‘Plan Sea’ – an in-depth strategy for Kent’s 350-mile coastline and the waters off it.
Food production, renewable energy and the boost to the economy of tourism were among the subjects listed as worthy of exploration in a report considered by county councillors last week.
Dover county councillor Trevor Bond (Con) said: “We worry about being the Garden of England, but I think we have forgotten the 350-mile coastline.”
His comments were made at KCC’s environment and transport committee meeting on Thursday (May 19).
The debate revolved around identifying and investigating the use of the coastline, key challenges for the coastal and marine environment and reviewing what has been done elsewhere in the UK.
Kent’s marine environment faces significant pressures, including warmer waters caused by climate change, coastal erosion, flooding, habitat loss and over exploitation of natural resources.
Preliminary discussions have been held between KCC and Kent Wildlife Trust about the potential to create a marine and coastal officer role to drive a plan forward.
Romney Marsh county councillor Tony Hills (Con), chairman of KCC’s flood risk committee, said: “I feel this groundswell amongst all organisations, who are waking up to environmental challenges.”
Canterbury county councillor Neil Baker (Con) added: “We are a county surrounded by a lot of coastline. I think this is a great development.”
However, some concerns were raised at the meeting over the lack of consideration concerning the impact of pollution on Kent’s waters.
For instance, Southern Water was last year fined a record £90 million for dumping billions of litres of raw sewage in north Kent.
KCC’s shadow cabinet member for environment, Cllr Barry Lewis (Lab), of Margate, said: “There is no mention of serial polluters Southern Water.
“How can we go forward with this when we have an organisation that (has been) destroying parts of the coastal environment, including Thanet?”