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'These reports don't help our cause' - Coastal defence campaigner wary of relocation warning

PUBLISHED: 15:08 11 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:26 11 September 2019

An aerial view of the coastal erosion at Hemsby beach. Photo: BlueSky UAV Specialists

An aerial view of the coastal erosion at Hemsby beach. Photo: BlueSky UAV Specialists

BlueSky UAV Specialists

A coastal defence campaign group has criticised a report warning that homes will have to be sacrificed as sea levels rise.

Coastal erosion along the Norfolk coast between Caister and Winterton.
Looking towards Hemsby from Scratby.
Picture: Nick ButcherCoastal erosion along the Norfolk coast between Caister and Winterton. Looking towards Hemsby from Scratby. Picture: Nick Butcher

The report, published by the Global Commission on Adaptation, warns that thousands of homes on the UK coast will have to retreat inland and entire communities may need to be relocated to higher ground due to the effects of climate change.

But Ian Brennan, of Save Hemsby Coastline, has said the report "plays into the hands of people who want to do nothing".

"I'm not saying what they're saying is wrong, but these reports don't help our cause," he said.

Hemsby and other villages along the Norfolk coast have witnessed storm surges, collapsing sand dunes and demolished homes over recent years.

Clifftop homes at risk on the Hemsby Coastline. Picture: Denise BradleyClifftop homes at risk on the Hemsby Coastline. Picture: Denise Bradley

Mr Brennan said: "Is Holland saying we're going to abandon two-thirds of our country?

"It's a political decision."

He said the village pumps money into the local economy, especially through tourism, but the government has not granted any money for sea defences.

MORE: 'I am not giving up' - Former soldier's new tactic in battle to save clifftop home

The report endorses the idea of relocating coastal communities in the UK, saying "transformative approaches" are needed rather than just trying to protect communities from flooding.

Councillor Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council. Picture: Ella WilkinsonCouncillor Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

It calls for government investment over the next decade to make communities around the world more resilient to increased floods, droughts and coastal erosion.

"Without such a transformation, violence, civil war and mass displacements could increase," the report says.

The UK was one of 20 countries to establish the commission, which advises governments on how to prepare for climate change.

Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said withdrawal from the coast is something the council would have to look at in years to come.

"It will all be part and parcel of local authority work in the future," he said.

In May, chairwoman of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd, said the country "cannot win a war against water" by building ever-higher flood defences.

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But Norfolk County Council said it is not prepared to sanction a 'managed retreat' across the county, where the shoreline would be allowed to move inland, rather than defending the line through engineering projects.

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