• By 2050, rising sea levels in England will imperil 200,000 homes

    Environment

    The homes at risk are worth tens of billions of pounds, and sea level rises that would cause flooding are now nearly unavoidable due to the accelerating rate of climate change.

    Digital Desk: As the climate catastrophe takes hold, new evidence predicts that approximately 200,000 coastal buildings in England will be at risk within 30 years.

    These are the homes that may not be saved since attempting to do so with seawalls and other coastal defences would be prohibitively expensive. North Somerset, Sedgemoor, Wyre, and Swale are among the most vulnerable places.

    Sir James Bevan, the head of the Environment Agency, warned last week that many homes would be impossible or uneconomic to save, and that entire towns would have to relocate inland, calling it "the toughest of all uncomfortable facts."

    The homes at risk are worth tens of billions of pounds, and sea level rises that would cause flooding are now nearly unavoidable due to the accelerating rate of climate change.

    By 2050, sea levels around the English coast are expected to be 35cm higher. Furthermore, foreshores are eroding, resulting in higher waves, particularly during storms.

    Researchers at the University of East Anglia's Tyndall Centre released a study in the peer-reviewed journal Oceans and Coastal Management that estimated over 200,000 houses and businesses at risk of abandonment.

    "Significant sea level rise is now unavoidable," said Paul Sayers, the paper's primary author. Many of our major coastal cities will continue to be protected, but this may not be possible for certain coastal areas. We need a real national discussion about the magnitude of the threat to these communities and what constitutes a fair and long-term response, including how to assist individuals in relocating."

    "In the long run, climate change implies that some of our communities - both in our nation and around the world - will be unable to stay where they are," Bevan said at a conference last week. That's because, while we can safely rebuild after most river flooding, there's no going back for territory that has been eroded away by coastal erosion or that has been permanently or repeatedly submerged by rising sea levels."

    "In some areas, the proper approach - in economic, strategic, and human terms - will have to be to shift communities away from danger rather than trying to shield them from the unavoidable effects of increasing sea levels," he added. Previous estimates of the number of homes at risk were lower, as government estimates have not kept up with climate science. In 2018, the Committee on Climate Change warned that about a third of the UK coastline was in danger.

    Jim Hall, professor of climate and environmental risks at the University of Oxford, who was not involved with the latest study, said: “We need to have honest conversations with coastal communities, that it will simply not be possible to protect every house and business from sea level rise. These changes are coming sooner than we might think and we need to plan now for how we can adjust, including a nationwide strategic approach to deciding how to manage the coast sustainably in the future.”

                                                                                                             

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