Launch of the first East Anglian Coast and Estuaries Conference to take place at Wherstead Park in Ipswich
This year marks the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the devastating floods of 1953 during which over 300 people lost their lives and the 10th anniversary of the 2013 East Coast Tidal Surge when many hundreds of homes and businesses were flooded. It is seems fitting then that 2023 sees the launch of the first East Anglian Coast and Estuaries Conference.
The conference, which takes place on 12th October at Wherstead Park, is a collaboration of Coastal Forum's in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. This is not the first year a coast and estuaries conference has been held this part of the country. In 2012 the first Suffolk Coast and Estuaries Conference was launch and in 2021 this extended to Norfolk. This, however, is the first time it has spanned the whole East Anglian coast and its estuaries, one of the fastest eroding coasts in northwest Europe.
Cllr David Beavan, who took over the Chair of the Suffolk Coast Forum after the local elections this year said "This conference has grown from 70 delegates when started by the Suffolk Coastal Forum over ten years ago to more than 400, in person and online today. Like the Iceni tribes of old East Anglia, we are gathering forces from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex to prepare our coast for sea level rise. I welcome the interesting discussions we will have but look forward even more to engaging our communities and the actions that will ensue."
Entitled 'Changing Tides, Changing Times, speakers will reflect on the changes and challenges facing those who live, work on and visit our much-loved coast and estuaries. Speakers include John Curtin, Executive Director of Operations at the Environment Agency, Professor Ivan Haigh, professor in Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, based at the prestigious National Oceanography Centre, Southampton and Karen Thomas Chair of the East Anglian Coastal Group.
The conference is set in the context of The Year of the Coast 2023 and is in partnership with the Anglian (Eastern) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC). Richard Powell OBE, Chair of the RFCC said "I have seen the progress of this important conference since its inception in 2012. The RFCC has been delighted to partner in the development of the conference for the last three years and the extension of its remit, to include Essex, can only support the collaboration that is essential to manage the future challenges of our coast and estuaries for its people, its economy and its environment."
The Year of the Coast 2023, Pledge for the Coast initiative will have its community launch at the conference, followed by a launch in Westminster later in October. Pledge for the Coast is a collaborative campaign initiated by Coastal Partnership East, the Local Government Association Coastal Special Interest Group, National Tourist Academy, OneCoast and Coastal Group Network. Delegates will be able to make a live pledge about what they can personally do to support the coast. Students attending the conference will be encouraged to play their part.
Cllr Harry Blathwayt, Chair of the Norfolk Coast Forum said "The Norfolk Coast Forum is extremely proud and delighted to play a part in this conference. It is astounding that we are able to offer something of such high quality free for people to attend. This is thanks to our sponsors and allows communities, charities, organisations and businesses to come and hear from knowledgeable speakers and to learn from each other. We are also able to offer students free places so that we can encourage and support the next generation of people who take up careers on our coast and estuaries."
The programme is a balance of international, national, regional and local learning and information, with opportunities for delegates to ask questions; both in person and through the live-streaming platform.
Cllr Lee Scott, Chair of the Essex Coast Forum said "This is an unrivalled opportunity to enhance collaboration across our coast and estuaries to enable us to face the challenges of a changing climate and rising sea levels together. We are already seeing more extreme weather and as a result increased storminess. We've witnessed significantly higher tides this summer, impacting on a time when we should see our beaches replenishing. Hearing good practice, learning form each other and educating the next generation is becoming ever more critical."