Firstly, whilst recognising that sea defence strategies must take account of the forces of nature, it is still essential that we use resources and expertise in the most effective way. At present responsibilities are hopelessly fragmented.
In Norfolk, three district councils, the Environment Agency, internal drainage boards and the Broads Authority, all have a role in defending the land against the sea. This sort of pattern is repeated in counties right round our coastline.
I am sure that the Government should re-examine responsibilities for sea defences and flooding to ensure that available expertise and resources are pooled and deployed in the most effective way. Second, there is great anxiety locally that offshore dredging may be having an adverse effect on our natural sea defences.
The system for the granting of licences for dredging should be modernised and made more transparent. For example, in any licensing system it must surely be right that the fee paid by the licensee is in the public domain. Yet the Crown Estate refuses to reveal this information. It is not enough to reveal total income from licences granted, transparency with regard to all financial details would reassure the public.
North Norfolk Liberal Democrat