Regional Development Minister, Michelle McIlveen MLA, has established a new forum to deal with the issue of coastal erosion, according to the Democratic Unionist Party.
Welcoming the first meeting of the forum, Michelle McIlveen said: “Coastal erosion is an issue that I have a particular interest in given that I live in the Ards area where the impact of coastal change is obvious. I became determined to do something about the issue.”
“Just over a year ago, a number of community groups from the area came together to highlight the need for this matter to be addressed in a more joined-up and strategic way.”
The Minister said that it was following the devastating impact on communities on the Ards peninsula of the tidal surge in late 2013/early 2014 that she really came to appreciate the lack of clear strategic approach to this issue.
McIlveen added: “While it is clear that managing coastal erosion cannot be managed by one organisation alone. By pooling the wide range of resources and expertise we have available across government and within local communities we can move forward in a stronger and more effective way.”
Phil Davidson, Wildlife and Countryside Adviser for the National Trust, said: “In Northern Ireland, we have almost 500 miles of coast and there is an immediate need for action.”
“We are likely to be facing even greater increases in storm surges and sea level rise in the future. However, there is currently no coordinated approach to inform decision making on how best to sustainably manage the vulnerable areas of coastline. So we warmly welcome this initiative and look forward to working closely with our partners in the coming months and years.”
Attending this week’s meeting were representatives from central and local government, including Environment Minister Mark H Durkan and Rivers Agency, together with the National Trust and the Ards Peninsula Coastal group.