1.5 million properties at risk from rising sea levels

Rising sea levels could see up to 1.5 million coastal properties face a significant level of flood risk in England by the 2080s, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has warned.


In a report published today, the watchdog predicted that climate change would almost certainly cause sea levels to rise by one meter or more around the UK by as early as 2100.

However, it estimates that 520,000 properties are already at risk from coastal flooding, and that 8,900 are also currently located in areas threatened by coastal erosion.

This is thought to cost over £260m in damages every year, with the CCC now calling on the government to “urgently” devise a new long-term approach to coastal management that adequately considers the impacts of climate change.

“It’s time people woke up to the very real challenges ahead,” CCC flooding and coastal erosion expert, professor Jim Hall, said

“The government and local authorities need to talk honestly with those affected about the difficult choices they face – as the climate changes, the current approach to protecting the English coastline is not fit for purpose.”

Coastal management in England is covered by a complex patchwork of legislation, which the CCC said leaves flooding and erosion without the attention they deserve, with current policies not cost-beneficial.

As sea levels rise, it predicts that 1.5 million properties, including 1.2 million homes, could face significant flood risk by the 2080s, and that 100,000 properties may be in areas at risk from coastal erosion.

It also estimates that 1,600km of major roads, 650km of railway line, 92 railway stations and 55 historic landfill sites are at risk of coastal flooding or erosion by 2100.

In response, the CCC said the government should make long-term funding and investment available, and that local authorities and the Environment Agency work with affected communities.

Moreover, it argues that plans to manage and adapt specific shorelines over the coming century should be realistic and sustainable in economic, social and environmental terms.

“Action is needed now to improve the way England’s coasts are managed today and in the future, to reduce the polluting emissions which cause climate change, and to prepare seaside communities for the realities of a warming world,” Hall added.

Image credit | iStock

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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