Rising seas could see towns abandoned as we will not be able to defend our homes against growing threat, expert warns
- Homes on the British coastline may have to be deserted because of rising seas
- Chief executive of the Environment Agency is due to give a speech saying the homes cannot be defended with walls of concrete and must be given up
- Places under threat include Fairbourne in Wales and Happisburgh in Norfolk
Towns and villages along the British coastline may have to be deserted because of rising seas, the official in charge of Britain’s flood protection will warn today.
Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, is due to give a speech saying the growing threat of rising seas and rivers means we will not be able to defend homes with walls of concrete.
Instead we should give up and let them be swallowed by the encroaching waters.
Some coastal communities will have to be moved away from danger caused by the ‘inevitable impacts of a rising sea level’, Sir James will tell the Flood and Coast Conference in Telford, Shropshire.
The chief executive of the Environment Agency is due to give a speech saying towns and villages on the coastline cannot be protected and must eventually be abandoned. Erosion of the Norfolk cliffs near Happisburgh has caused many buildings and farmland to be lost to sea
Places under threat include Fairbourne in Wales and Happisburgh in Norfolk (pictured)
He will say on the topic of adapting to rising sea levels: ‘In the long term, climate change means that some of our communities – both in this country and around the world – cannot stay where they are… While we can come back safely and build back better after most river flooding, there is no coming back for land that coastal erosion has taken away.’
Sir James will not name particular communities consigned to a watery end. Yet sea levels around the UK have risen by 15.4cm since 1900, and the Met Office predicts modern levels could increase a further 1.12m by 2100, threatening communities on sea cliffs and coastal floodplains around much of the east and south coast of England. The west of Wales and north-west England could also be hit.
The Environment Agency will set out its risk management strategy to help get the nation ready for flooding and coastal change.
Actions will include producing a national assessment of flood risk, an updated coastal erosion risk map and long-term investment scenarios to better inform future decisions as part of a £5.2billion investment by 2027.
Places under threat from rising tides include Fairbourne in Wales and Happisburgh in Norfolk.
Gwynedd council has told Fairbourne, which has around 410 homes, that it will only keep sea defences going until 2050, and will start to ‘decommission’ the village before then, moving villagers out.
In Happisburgh, home to around 900 people, houses that were once 20ft from the sea are now on a cliff edge. The village has lost 35 homes to erosion over the past two decades.
Fairbourne, in North Wales, is pictured. Fairbourne has around 410 homes, which will be defended until 2050, after which the council will start to ‘decommission’ the village