Where cost is an issue coastal communities can potentially look for alternative funding streams. However, a more fundamental issue is the assumption of the Environment Agency that it will decide whether to maintain or abandon sea defences. This issue is simply too important to local communities to be decided by a non governmental body. This ‘democratic deficit’ was made significantly worse by the 2010 Flood and Water Management Act rushed through parliament without proper scrutiny in the last few days before the 2010 general election. Section 38 of this gives wide ranging powers to the Environment Agency to actually create either flooding or coastal erosion where it believes these are justified for what are in practice a wide ranging set of reasons.
There is an urgent need for the government to review both this act and the wider issue of how decisions are taken in relation to whether to maintain or abandon sea defences. It is clearly inappropriate for unelected civil servants to be taking decisions about whether to abandon large areas of the land to the sea.