The first rocks have arrived on the beach at Fleetwood as part of an £86m investment in the Fylde coast’s sea defences.
Environment secretary Owen Paterson visited construction sites at Rossall and Anchorsholme to see how the money will be spent protecting 12,000 homes and creating jobs for local residents.
He said: “This is one of the biggest schemes I have seen - it’s an enormous sum of money.
“I have been hounded by the local MPs Eric Ollerenshaw and Paul Maynard on the value of it.
“It is a significant economic activity in its own right that will bring significant employment.”
He praised the work of the local councils, who managed the bring the cost of the project down from the original estimate of £104m.
The work, which will take three years to complete, is creating around 180 jobs and project bosses say 15 per cent will go to local residents.
Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw was on site at Rossall yesterday, where a 2km stretch of the sea wall from Rossall Hospital to Rossall Point is being upgraded, to see the first stones being put in place.
He said: “It is fantastic - this is real money coming into Fleetwood, creating real jobs and apprenticeships.
“It is good that we are not forgotten about in Fleetwood. We are part and parcel of what’s going on.”
Councillors and MPs present who visited the sites yesterday as construction got underway said the recent extreme weather over winter highlighted the need to get to work on the sea wall.
Rossall and Anchorsholme have both been identified as areas at high risk of flooding.
Coun Roger Berry, cabinet member with responsibility for sea defences at Wyre Council, said: “The first rocks arriving at Rossall mark the fruition of years of effort to bring about major coastal defence improvements for this community.
“The new sea defences will protect 7,500 homes from flooding and bring peace of mind to residents, something that can’t come soon enough after the weather and tide conditions we’ve experienced in recent months.”
Coun Fred Jackson, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This is going to protect the residents of Anchorsholme in a very real way.
“It is good for the area. Although at the moment it attracts a lot of visitors this should attract even more because of the design of the Promenade - it’s a real added attraction.”
Chairman of the Environment Agency Lord Chris Smith said: “I am delighted that work has commenced on the Rossall and Anchorsholme flood schemes, reducing the risk of flooding to 12,000 properties along the Fylde Coast.
“These two schemes are the result of much hard work from the whole partnership and I’m proud of the commitment shown by all organisations involved.”