Coastal erosion caused by climate change could threaten millions of homes around England within a few decades if drastic action is not taken quickly.
A new report from the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says there are inadequate measures in place to reassure communities and take the action required to avert serious damage from flooding and erosion.
It estimates implementing the Government’s current policies to protect the coastline would cost £18-30 depending on the rate of climate change, but the committee says there is not enough urgency or realism being shown at government level to address the problem.
Climate change means sea levels will rise
The report, entitled Managing the coast in a changing climate, says climate change could cause sea levels around the UK to rise by a metre or more by as early as 2100.
At the moment, the CCC says there are 520,000 properties, including 370,000 homes in England, located in areas at risk of damage from coastal flooding. Of those properties, 8,900 risk being lost completely through coastal erosion.
By the 2080s, their report suggests, up to 1.5 million properties, including 1.2 million homes, could be in areas at significant level of flood risk with 100,000 at risk from coastal erosion.
The report makes five recommendations for action, including acknowledging the scale of the problem and giving the people who live on the coast that information; developing realistic long-term strategies to deal with coastal erosion; and more long-term funding and investment from the Government.
Wake up to challenges ahead
Professor Jim Hall, the CCC Adaptation Committee’s expert on flooding and coastal erosion, said: “As the climate changes, the current approach to protecting the English coastline is not fit for purpose.
“It’s time people woke up to the very real challenges ahead. As sea levels rise and flooding and erosion get worse, we have assessed that current plans for around 150 kilometres, or 90 miles, of the coastline are not cost-beneficial to implement.
“The Government and local authorities need to talk honestly with those affected about the difficult choices they face. Climate change is not going away.”