Before readers get too excited this Exeter University project is one of six sharing £9.2 million funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Will any cash actually filter down to local economies? – Owl
Patrick McAndrew www.plymouthherald.co.uk
The University of Exeter has announced a new project which will aim to aid the economies of UK coastal towns as part of a new nearly-£10million fund.
The “Sustainable Development and Resilience of UK Coastal Communities” project will first focus on a range of locations across Devon and Cornwall before applying the practices across the rest of the UK.
University bosses say the project aims to “build the marine economy while protecting ecosystems and communities”.
With a focus on local maritime communities, the university is working in partnership with Devon Maritime Forum and Cornwall Rural Community Charity in the attempt to revitalise areas that face the challenges of the climate emergency, Covid-19 and Brexit.
Dr Louisa Evans, who will lead the project, said: “Marine resources and coastal heritage are some of the country’s greatest assets.
“I am over the moon to have this opportunity to help coastal communities and marine ecosystems thrive now and in the future.
“Our programme will identify how people and livelihoods can be more resilient to environmental and social change, while also improving the well-being of coastal communities and the health of the marine environment.
“We will deliver these benefits across different projects and policies, ranging from sustainable seafood and marine apprenticeship schemes to coastal heritage decision-making and marine conservation policy.”
Steven Guilbert of the Devon Maritime Forum added: “This project will allow us to focus on key areas of interest, namely: blue growth, marine conservation, and climate and coastal change.
“This, in turn can lead to more effective and sustainable outcomes for the marine environment in Devon and the wider South West peninsula.”
The project has been announced soon after England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty highlighted the difficulties many coastal towns, including Torbay, face in his annual report last week.
He said: “Coastal areas are some of the most beautiful, vibrant and historic places in the country but they also have some of the worst health outcomes with low life expectancy and high rates of many major diseases.
“These communities have often been overlooked by governments and if we do not tackle these issues vigorously, they will get worse as the current population ages.”