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Rising sea to claim 7,000 properties in U.K.: analysis

Dec 30, 2014, 3:46 AM EST
A flooded field is pictured near Muchelney on November 17, 2014 in Muchelney, Somerset, United Kingdom.
AFP/Getty Images

An estimated 7,000 properties around England and Wales will be sacrificed to rising seas over the next century, according to the Environment Agency. The BBC reports:

Analysis by the Agency, based on current funding levels, projects that more than 800 will be lost over the next 20 years as coastlines erode. The cost of protecting these properties is considered to be too high.

The Environment Agency estimates that more than £1bn worth of properties will disappear as a result. The coast of England and Wales is being steadily eaten by the waves, and climate change is projected to increase sea-level and drive up the intensity of storms.

In the coming 100 years, six local authorities - Great Yarmouth, Southampton, Cornwall, North Norfolk, East Riding and Scarborough - are expected to lose more than 200 homes each. Local groups are campaigning for compensation if they are forced out of their homes.

The government has resisted this call, which could set a precedent for paying damages to people affected by climate change. Friends of the Earth has accused the government of dumping the costs of climate change on to vulnerable people.

The Guardian reports:

Coastal erosion expert Professor Rob Duck, at Dundee University, said: “It is a very difficult issue, but we can’t defend everything at all costs. There are just not the resources to do it and keep on doing it. But it is not just about money, often people have lived in places for generations and there is a lot of history and memories.”

The local authority in which most homes are expected to be lost in the next 20 years is Cornwall, with 76. Cornwall also tops the list for homes lost in 50 years, with 132. Looking 100 years ahead, six local authorities are expected to lose more than 200 homes each: Great Yarmouth (293), Southampton (280), Cornwall (273), North Norfolk (237), East Riding of Yorkshire (204) and Scarborough (203).

Duck said the east coast from Yorkshire down to Essex is “soft and vulnerable” and that the stronger storms and rising sea level being driven by climate change will increase their vulnerability.

A recent EA document stated: “It is widely accepted that [climate change] will lead to an acceleration of coastal erosion due to more aggressive marine conditions.”

The EA analysis assumes that funding for shoreline management plans – a mix of holding the line and managed retreat – is maintained. Without this, the number of properties lost within 100 years would increase tenfold to over 74,000.

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