The MLA for Strangford was speaking after a meeting of the Coastal Erosion Group on Friday (May 26), adding the lack of investment in coastal defences was ‘no longer acceptable’.
“The Ministers for Infrastructure and Daera must take action now to tackle this growing problem before it’s too late,” said Kellie Armstrong MLA.
“Across Strangford coastal businesses are suffering, as roads are destroyed or blocked by debris and the cost of flooding from tidal surges continues to increase.
“The Ministers must ensure specific actions and funding are included in the Programme For Government (PFG) delivery plans, signalling they are prepared to finally tackle the issues of coastal defence and management.
“I call for a coastal management strategy to be developed and ask that from today no government official refers to the Bateman Principle – an out of date principle that government uses as an excuse to ignore coastal erosion.
“Strangford has the longest coastline of all constituencies across Northern Ireland and over time tourism has developed into one of the main sources of income for the area.
“We need real investment in coastal defences to ensure tourists can access the area on safe roads and local people can get their kids to school, access essential services and have use of well-maintained roads without fear of undermining, road collapse or being struck by marine debris.
“Now is the time to work for NI and ensure legislation is in place to protect our beautiful coastal communities.”