Coastal Areas Bid For £64m Storm Relief Fund
Coastal communities affected by flooding will be able to bid for a share of a £64m fund.
The Government has said projects to strengthen flood defences will be prioritised.
The fund was originally set up to ensure investment was made in seaside towns and villages, reduce unemployment and create apprenticeships and job opportunities for young people.
During the series of winter storms many coastal communities with already fragile economies have taken a battering both physically and financially.
In Aberystwyth, in west Wales, where the Victorian promenade was badly damaged as high tides and high winds combined to create the worst storms in living memory, the race is on to repair the seafront in time for the start of the tourist season at Easter.
Richard Griffiths who owns the Richmond Hotel on the seafront, describes how the waves broke over the promenade and through a sea wall before pummelling the front of his hotel.
He told Sky News investment in stronger defences will be essential to prevent future storms causing similar damage because tourism is a major source of income in the town.
"It's vital for the local economy that Aberystwyth is up and running. It is key to the whole area," he said.
The Government has announced that in England £17m is being allocated to flood hit areas including Great Yarmouth, Weymouth, Devon and North Tyneside.
New projects to help boost tourism across the UK include £170,000 to develop the Arran Coastal Way in Scotland, £270,000 to develop Northern Ireland's first lobster hatchery and £100,000 is being spent on a new water sports centre in Colwyn Bay in Wales.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said: "The Coastal Communities Fund allows us to help communities across the UK to rebuild and regenerate their local economy, with projects this year supporting nearly 4,000 jobs and 1,000 training places.
"This is even more important given the extreme weather and I'm very pleased we're giving £17m of the fund to projects in areas hit by floods.
"Additionally, we have invested £5m from the fund's reserve into the government's programme for flood recovery."
But one expert has told Sky News that if, as he expects, we will see more frequent storms on the scale of those seen over the winter some communities may not withstand the damage.
Dr Stephen Tooth is a geography lecturer at Aberystwyth University. He has studied erosion and says it will be impossible to protect all coastal areas.
He told Sky News: "There are some very difficult social and political decisions to be made here as to what we value and wish to defend. It's certainly not the case that you can protect everywhere.
"Tough decisions are going to have to be made at various levels as to where the investment is going to be to protect our coastline, but I think there is tacit acknowledgement that we can't defend everywhere and to some extent, some sections of coastline are going to have to be allowed to erode."
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