Question 10: Using examples, are there any difficulties or challenges faced by coastal partnerships, which have not already been raised in the findings of the Stocktake Report in section 8 of this document?
10 Question 10 summary of responses
Of the 47 responses that specifically addressed this question, seven felt that the Stocktake Report12 identified and covered the principle difficulties and challenges faced by coastal partnerships.
A small number of respondents felt that the Stocktake had demonstrated that ICZM projects and partnerships are variable in their approach around the coast, and that whilst many of the initiatives were following the principles of ICZM, they were not delivering specifically on the ground. Others commented that partnerships had all been set up with very different objectives, but that the best partnerships had evolved into flexible and inclusive groups that can tackle wider-range and longer-term planning and responsive action in the coastal zone. It was felt by some that whilst generic ICZM partnerships might be a good idea, they would not necessarily evolve from existing coastal groups which already have their own views and positioning.
Eight respondents commented on staffing difficulties, in particular recruitment of new staff, in some cases because new graduates entering these roles often lack the socio-political skills that come with experience. There were also comments relating to the ability to retain staff once recruited, through the lack of job security, career progression and the level of commitment required by individuals to fulfil their role. Difficulties, which comments claim, impact on the continuity and effectiveness of partnerships. There were also comments relating to the isolation felt by coastal officers, since there is no professional body for coastal managers, or any source of professional development and also through the local authority coastal officer’s role being seen as separate from the majority of the authority’s normal functions.
Eighteen respondents focussed on issues related to partner and stakeholder participation, with four commenting on the need for partnerships to ensure a representative cross section of community, business, statutory and non-statutory organisations are involved. Five responses commented that many partnerships were dominated by sectoral interests, particularly local authorities and other statutory bodies, and this acted as a disincentive for involvement. This was attributed to many partnerships having difficulties engaging with the commercial/industrial/private sectors. There were also comments regarding the sometimes less than enthusiastic and inconsistent participation and commitment by partner organisations, and some concerns that differences of views within partnerships on major policy issues may be impossible to resolve.
10.5 Five responses included comments on the lack of direction as a key difficulty, leading to calls for clearer communication of central government
12 Atkins: ICZM in the UK: A Stocktake (2004)