Coastal erosion on the Magilligan and Bellarena coastline is literally washing away the livelihoods of those who live and work on the shore – according to local MLA Cathal Ó hOisín.
The Sinn Féin MLA for East Derry also stated that those people who are “literally losing their livelihoods to the sea” should receive compensation from the Crown Estate.
He said: “There are numerous farmers and business that are in danger of having their livelihoods literally washed away at Bellerena and Magilligan by coastal erosion. 56 acres have been lost in recent years and this erosion is continuing unabated.
“The Crown Estate, which claims any land from the sea bed up to the high water mark, now has claim to the land affected with no recompense for local land owners.
“Given the current economic climate the loss of this land has only served to compound the financial difficulties faced by business and farmers on this coast.
“The Crown Estate, through its gain, should strongly consider a compensation package for those affected. Through a natural process of sea erosion, which has been extensive in this instance, the Crown Estate are financial better off while many who have lost land are now in financial difficulty.
“Further to this with the extent of this erosion I would appeal to the Department of Agriculture to implement a series of sea defences in order to protect the remaining land.”
Ó hOisín continued: “From Goss Point at the Roe mouth to Magilligan Point, I suppose, it has been calculated by local people that it’s over 50 acres which has been lost. It is a natural nature reserve, an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, etc.
“It is adversely affected farms - but there are other businesses there and other activities that go along and across the front of the coast.
“It is a serious issue and it has to be addressed.
“I know of one farmer who purchased land there and he has lost six acres to the sea.
“Ideally we want some form of rock armour or whatever engineering solution is required to protect the land and if the Crown Estate are claiming it - why shouldn’t it be them (who compensate people losing land)?”