South Tyneside Council is pledging to work with partners and the community to protect habitats and wildlife along the Borough’s coastline.
A national Pledge for the Coast was recently launched in Parliament by a coalition of coastal communities, of which South Tyneside is part of through its membership and hosting of the Local Government Association Coastal Special Interest Group (LGA Coastal SIG).
Councillor Ernest Gibson, South Tyneside Council’s Lead Member for Neighbourhoods and Climate Change is also Chair of the LGA Coastal SIG. He said:
“Our stunning coastline is unique and amazing, but faces a set of complex, challenging and wide ranging issues, from the ongoing threat of coastal erosion and flooding to beach and water safety, the decline in traditional industries and the vulnerability of its important wildlife, habitats and marine life.
“At a local level, we are already doing a great deal of work that values the marine life, plant species, birds and animals that are native to our coast and, as we celebrate 2023 being the Year of the Coast, now is the perfect time to build on this work, celebrate and protect our natural environment, improve ecology and biodiversity and strengthen our commitment to safeguarding our coastal communities for the future.”
South Tyneside’s local pledge to help protect coastal habitats and wildlife builds on the work of the Council in partnerships including Stronger Shores, which involves restoring marine habitats, such as kelp beds, oyster reefs and sea grass, and looking at how they can help to protect coastal communities from the impacts of climate change such as flooding and erosion.
The Council is also a partner on the Tyne Estuary Partnership which has undertaken work to restore saltmarsh habitats in two locations along the banks of the Tyne at Hebburn.
In January 2022, the Council also declared an urgent need for ocean recovery through its ‘Motion for the Ocean’, and through the ‘Protect our Ocean’ campaign continues to highlight the importance of coastal education around issues such as single-use plastics and the impact they can have on marine life and coastal wildlife.
Residents, businesses and organisations can make their own pledge to support the coast by choosing from a range of options, including volunteering in beach cleans or coastal projects, supporting campaigns that make coastlines safer such as World Drowning Prevention Day or Float to Live, making lifestyle changes like going plastic free or simply promising to respect the natural environment when visiting the coast.
All pledges are hosted on an interactive map on the LGA Coastal SIG website at Pledge for the Coast – LGA Coastal SIG. Those involved are also encouraged to share their pledge with the hashtags #CoastalPledge, #YearoftheCoast2023 and #OurCoast.
The Pledge for the Coast has been developed by OneCoast Coalition – a collaborative alliance between the LGA Coastal SIG, Coastal Communities Alliance, Coastal Partnership Network and National Coastal Tourism Academy, which strive to raise the profile of the coast and all it has to offer.
On behalf of OneCoast, Beccy MacDonald-Lofts, of the LGA Coastal SIG, said: “The uniqueness that our coastal areas offer is something that we find nowhere else in the country. Just the sight of the sea is something that personally brings me a sense of comfort and happiness, something I know is shared by the thousands who visit our coastline every week.
“As OneCoast, we work together to raise the profile of challenges faced by the communities living in these unique areas and the potential solutions to make these areas thriving and resilient. We’re delighted to have developed the Pledge initiative, an idea originally developed by Coastal Partnership East, to give everyone across the country the opportunity to engage with, and pledge their support, for our coastal areas.”
The Pledge for the Coast was launched in Parliament in October by the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Coastal Communities, Sally-Ann Hart MP. She said: “I know first-hand how incredible our coast and coastal communities are and how important it is for us to ensure that they receive the right support and focus. I am proud to be the Chair for the APPG for Coastal Communities, and of the work that we have achieved together in highlighting coastal communities.
“By working with other likeminded MPs, supported by our co-secretariat, we have been able to deliver a coastal inquiry like no other, and we focus on delivering actions after every session that we hold.
“Through all our sessions there is one common call from MPs and other organisations, that is for a dedicated Minister for the Coast who can bring together all the actions which need to be delivered in order to unleash the potential of our coastal communities, so that rather than be a problem to solve, they become a resource to the UK.
“I’m delighted to be able to support the Pledge for the Coast initiative at the in-Parliament event and as an MP I am pledging my continued support for the APPG, which has written a letter to all party leaders, calling for a dedicated Minister to be added to their Manifestos.”
South Tyneside Council is fully supportive of the call for a dedicated Minister for the Coast who would bring together governmental departments and raise the profile of the unique needs of coastal communities.
To make a Pledge for the Coast, visit the LGA Coastal SIG website at Pledge for the Coast – LGA Coastal SIG.
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