Sea level rise in England will put 200,000 homes at risk by 2050, data shows | Climate crisis | The Guardian

Sea level rise in England will put 200,000 homes at risk by 2050, data shows <…>
Due to the climate crisis, within 30 years these coastal properties will be potentially unsalvageable, researchers say [image: Faversham, in Kent, is in the borough of Swale, one of the areas said to be most at risk of sea level rise.] Faversham, in Kent, is in the borough of Swale, one of the areas said to be most at risk of sea level rise. Photograph: Fraser Gray/Rex/Shutterstock Fiona Harvey <> Environment correspondent Wed 15 Jun 2022 00.01 BST
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Sea level rise will put about 200,000 coastal properties at risk in England within 30 years, new data suggests, as the climate crisis takes hold.
These are the homes that may not end up being saved because it would be very expensive to try, by measures such as seawalls and other coastal defences. Some of the areas most at risk include North Somerset, Sedgemoor, Wyre, and Swale.
The study comes after warnings last week from the head of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, that many homes would be impossible or uneconomic to save, and whole communities would have to move inland, which he called “the hardest of all inconvenient truths”. Sign up to First Edition, our free daily newsletter – every weekday morning at 7am BST
The value of the homes at risk is in the tens of billions of pounds, and the sea level rises that will bring about the flooding are now almost inevitable, given the increasing pace of climate breakdown <> . Advertisement
Sea levels around the English coast are forecast to be about 35cm higher by 2050. Added to this, foreshores are being eroded, which leads to higher waves, especially when there are storms.
The estimate of nearly 200,000 homes and businesses at risk of abandonment comes from researchers at the Tyndall Centre, in the University of East Anglia, published in the peer-review journal Oceans and Coastal Management <> .
Paul Sayers, the lead author of the paper, said: “Significant sea level rise is now inevitable. For many of our larger cities at the coast, protection will continue to be provided, but for some coastal communities this may not be possible <>. We need a serious national debate about the scale of the threat to these communities and what represents a fair and sustainable response, including how to help people to relocate.”
Bevan told a conference last week: “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 <>. That is because 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 or which a rising sea level has put permanently or frequently under water.” Advertisement
He added: “In some places the right answer – in economic, strategic and human terms – will have to be to move communities away from danger rather than to try and protect them from the inevitable impacts of a rising sea level.” [image: A viewpoint of the ocean at Seagate Road at the Quinault Indian Nation on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Taholah, Wash. The Seagate Road viewpoint use to be a half-mile wider and could fit about 60-70 parked cars, but has eroded over time due to sea level rising, said tribal treasurer Larry Ralston. The tribe also understands the area to be an ancient village site, Ralston said. Photograph: Jovelle Tamayo for The Guardian] ‘It’s happening now’: how rising sea levels are causing a US migration crisis Read more <>
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.”