Government urged to help fund house demolitions to protect people living in coastal homes

Houses on the coastline in Skipsea, East Riding of Yorkshire. (PA)

The government should help fund the demolition of dozens of houses in Yorkshire to protect homeowners, councillors have said.

Members of East Riding of Yorkshire Council are meeting on Wednesday to discuss a report that found 24 homes were at risk on the coast.

They feel helping residents knock down their homes and relocate would be the safest option.

Monitoring of the soft clay cliffs on the 80km Holderness Coast has found that the coastline is eroding at a rate of between 0.5 metres and 4 metres each year, the fastest in Europe.

It has seen losses of up to 10 metres since last March due to erosion.

The council report, which will be discussed at the environment and regeneration overview and scrutiny sub-committee meeting, revealed that some areas recorded losses in six months that were nearly double the annual rate, with the area south of Withernsea losing land at a rate of more than 1 metre each month.

Dozens of people in Skipsea will lose their homes to the sea on the fastest disappearing coastline in north-west Europe. (PA)

The report predicts that this erosion, which is likely to increase in future due to climate change, will put 24 homes in the village of Skipsea at risk by 2025.

But it says that a “single erosion event” could put a large number of properties at imminent risk within the next year and more than 200 residential properties will be lost within the next 100 years.

Councillors are calling on the government to provide funding for affected residents – who face paying thousands of pounds to demolish their own homes and relocate.

The council has historically met these costs, but it cannot afford to fund the demolition of all 24 properties at risk.

Councillors are set to discuss the devastating effect of erosion (Picture: PA)

Councillor David Elvidge, who will chair Wednesday’s meeting, said: “With the amount of funding available, we can only really defend the large areas of population. It’s a devastating thing.”

He said people in unprotected places such as Skipsea are “appalled” when they see coastal defence schemes being planned for other areas.

A £5.5m scheme, which has received £3m funding from the European Regional Development Fund, is due to start in Withernsea this year.

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Councillor Jane Evison is calling on the government to provide funding to help cover costs, which she said can be as much as £20,000.

She said: “The council is in a position where they’re not allowed to defend a coastline and neither are the private householders, clearly there’s erosion taking place, one or two homes are at very high risk, yet there’s no funding.”

Ms Evison added: “I’ve asked for a letter to go to Defra to say, ‘Look, as we’re not allowed to take action regards defending anything, we need funds available to keep people safe to help them with the costs of demolition and keep that coastline safe for people.’

A woman looks over the eroded coastline. (PA)

“I don’t think it’s a fair situation when we’re not allowed to provide any protection but we’re picking up the bill to keep people safe.”

Government decisions have been to not defend much of the sparsely populated coastline, with coastal defences not economically, socially or environmentally sustainable for large stretches of the coast.

In total £1.2bn is being spent to protect properties from coastal erosion around the UK, a government spokesperson said.