A MULTI-MILLION coastal development project has been labelled a waste of money by residents and councillors.
The £7.5m Donna Nook Managed Realignments Scheme, undertaken by the Environment Agency, will create 106 hectares of intertidal wetland habitats by flooding agricultural land near North Somercotes.
The project, which commenced in April 2012, includes the construction of a flood defence embankment, the removal of a tidal sluice, the creation of a new car park and the introduction of new coastal paths.
But more than a year after work began, concerns are being raised about the effectiveness and safety of the scheme.
Referring to the recently opened Stonebridge car park, Councillor John Page, chair of North Somercotes Parish Council, said: "The new car park is not fit for purpose – it floods every time we get rain.
"It has been built in a hollow and is covered in mud – it is dangerous for pedestrians and visitors."
Echoing Cllr Page's concerns, Jill Lingard from Grainthorpe said a new walkway leading off the car park was 'lethal'.
She added: "I went down to Donna Nook on Sunday morning and was appalled.
"It is absolutely horrendous. It is knee-deep for people trying to park and there was also mud on the tarmac – there was a perfectly good car park here before.
"I was with my nephews who are 7 and 10 and the wooden walkway was so icy it was lethal.
"They have spent millions of pounds of our money and they have absolutely destroyed it."
Plans to remove the Somercotes Haven sluice gate in order to create a 40 metre wide breach in the flood defences are yet to get under way.
Parish clerk Sheila Pearce said the council was opposing the development : "It is a colossal waste of money to spend more than £600,000 on taking out a sluice gate which can just be opened.
"In the opinion of the parish council, that money would be better spent on looking to ensure the defences they have already got here are properly managed."
Local farmer Alwyn Drewery said Thursday's tidal surge, which caused defences further up the coast to be breached, should serve as reminder of the area's vulnerability to flooding.
He added: "I'm glad that we haven't removed the sluice gate because the water would have been straight in the village.
"The sea wall which protects agricultural land was breached at Humberstone on Thursday and that is because of vermin burrowing through the bank.
"They have spent a lot of money down here but they haven't spent on putting wiring in the banks to stop badgers and rabbits burrowing into the sea defences.
"Do we want to protect farmers, businesses and houses or do we want to protect badgers?"
Alison Treverton from the Environment Agency, said: "We are aware of the issues at Donna Nook and looking at the best way of resolving them.
"However, our main priority now is dealing with the aftermath of a tidal surge which was higher than that experienced in 1953. "This includes working with residents affected by flooding and checking on the condition of the defences around the Lincolnshire coast."