MP demands change in land value rules

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Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw is demanding a change in rules about land value to help boost flood protection in areas such as Thurnham and Glasson.

Speaking in the Commons on Monday Mr Ollerenshaw asked the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to change the rules on how the value of agricultural land is calculated and considered when decisions are made about where to place and maintain sea defences. He cited the cases of Glasson and Thurnham in particular. Now Mr Paterson has promised that he and junior minister Dan Rogerson can meet the MP to discuss the issue.

The MP’s call followed the minister’s statement to the Commons on the work being done to deal with the recent flooding around the country. Afterwards, the MP said: “Last year it was announced that over £60m of funding would be put into renewing the sea defences in Rossall: that was welcome news. However, there are many more parts of the Lancaster and Fleetwood constituency which will need to be defended in the years ahead.

“There is a system in place at the moment which calculates the cost/benefits of where to spend money on sea defences and which parts of the coast to allow to be overtaken by the sea. Losing agricultural land, and associated properties, is costed much less than urban areas and so less money is likely to be spent on protecting rural coastland over the coming years. While there needs to be a system of prioritisation, I do think we need to see more done to ensure greater sums are spent on helping to protect rural areas and especially agricultural land.”

Mr Paterson said: “We have the conundrum that we must protect agricultural land that is of a lower value than land on which property is built and land in the cities.There is a matrix to evaluate each project.”