Geoffrey Cox MP calls for action over Northam Burrows

Geoffrey Cox has launched a scathing criticism of the Government agency, Natural England in the House of Commons for failing to communicate properly with local people about the future of the Northam Burrows.

Geoffrey Cox, MP for Torridge and West Devon, has launched a scathing criticism of the Government agency, Natural England in the House of Commons for failing to communicate properly with local people about the future of the Northam Burrows and issued a powerful plea to the Devon County Council to recognise the "urgent necessity" to "act now" to investigate the danger posed by a disused landfill site on the Burrows. The landfill site is believed to contain asbestos and medical waste.

The MP, who is to present a petition next month to parliament on the plight of coastal communities threatened, among other things, by coastal erosion, described to MPs how the problem was affecting local people.

"The people of the communities that I represent cannot understand why the responsible authorities-the district and county councils-do not take the action that their fathers and forefathers took to protect the Northam burrows against coastal erosion. Simply recharging the pebble ridge would afford protection against the oncoming tide and the erosion that it causes. No such action has been taken because Natural England no longer believes that recharging the pebble ridge is the right thing to do, even as an interim measure. Instead, it believes in what is called managed retreat."

He continued:

"If Natural England is right, it is vital that its reasoning be communicated to the people who live in the area, because they are the ones who are affected by coastal erosion. Their houses and communities are at risk, as are the precious Northam burrows that they have loved and lived in for decades and centuries. They feel that the policy has been devised at a distance from them and has not been one on which they have been consulted and that, in any event, it lacks the justification and substance that it ought to have."

Of the potential danger posed by the landfill site, Geoffrey Cox said:

"As the tide advances and surmounts the dunes, as it is beginning to do, it is beginning to sweep in and encircle that landfill site. None of us knows what is in the site. We believe that it contains asbestos-we are pretty confident that it does-and we know that it will contain something very unpleasant. As the tide encircles it and begins to erode it, we can only speculate and greet with some fear and trepidation what may be uncovered by the tide.

There is no doubt that the problem is urgent. There is no doubt that the problem is acute. All agree that it is urgently necessary, since the records of the landfill site were lost by the county council many years ago, that some steps are taken to investigate what lies beneath. Yet month has followed month and year has followed year, but no such investigation has been carried out, while the tide continues to advance, while the pebble ridge continues to recede and be eroded and while the danger increases step by step, nearer and nearer to the communities that I represent."

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2019
 
Saturday 9th November
Bideford, Torrington
 
Saturday 23rd November
Holsworthy, Tavistock