Image copyright PA Media Image caption Storm Ciara brought widespread flooding Coastal communities face “serious questions” about their long-term safety from rising seas, a senior Environment Agency official has warned.People have become used to a ‘myth of protection’, according to John Curtin, head of floods and coastal management. “We are in a cycle of thinking…

Flooded streets in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria

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PA Media

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Storm Ciara introduced popular flooding

Coastal communities face “serious questions” about their long-time frame security from rising seas, a senior Ambiance Agency legitimate has warned.

Folks have turn out to be aged to a ‘delusion of protection’, in step with John Curtin, head of floods and coastal management.

“We are in a cycle of pondering we are able to offer protection to in every single save always”, he told BBC Facts.

His warning follows research suggesting polar melting is accelerating and elevating the tip of the oceans.

And a serious UN spy closing three hundred and sixty five days acknowledged extremes of coastal flooding are role to turn out to be a ways extra frequent.

What’s this warning all about?

Mr Curtin is taking a long explore about how climate trade is role to extend the stage of the ocean and alter the coastline.

As a number one specialist in flood defence in England, he needs to role off a public debate about the manner to answer.

He believes that attributable to the 1960s, when massive concrete embankments were constructed along many stretches of shore, rather a lot of generations have grown up taking coastal protection as a true.


Now, he says, there is an urgent need for ‘great conversations’ about the manner to answer to the possibility of principal elevated seas.

In some areas that can imply bigger, stronger defences nevertheless in others the conclusion is also that it’s better for folk to pass inland.

“If the seas upward thrust by another metre, they obtain extra stormy, there are some locations which can presumably well be in point of fact vulnerable.

“We would have to perceive on the save folk stay at closing.”

What does he have in thoughts?

Mr Curtin became talking as he guided me around a brand novel flood draw in Boston in Lincolnshire, a town most frequently hit by North Sea storm surges in recent decades.

Every surge became elevated than the closing – in 1953, in 1978 and in 2013 – and at any time when the response became to toughen coastal defences by elevating embankments.

The most modern flood hit 500 homes and 300 companies and caused £1m price of damage to Boston’s successfully-known St Botolph’s church, identified domestically because the Stump.

Boston tidal barrier

It resulted in a large mission to shield the town with a tidal barrier, now below constructing at a price of additional than £100m.

A smaller model of the Thames Barrier which protects London, the draw entails a metal wall that can presumably well be raised into draw to attend encourage the ocean if a storm surge is forecast.

Doesn’t that fix the scheme back?

Wonderful, for rather a lot of decades no longer decrease than. Mr Curtin describes the Boston barrier as “worthwhile” – and one of many novel schemes around the country.

Nonetheless he’s anxious about the long-time frame future even for somewhere that’s successfully-defended.

The novel barrier is designed with sea stage upward thrust in thoughts – about 1.5m elevated than the closing 2013 surge – nevertheless there is a risk that climate trade will uncover extra instant than anticipated.

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Media captionConstructing the Boston barrier

“What if sea stage upward thrust occurs sooner? What is going to we stop previous the next Boston draw…”

That is just not always factual a query of cost, even supposing the sums enthusiastic are massive. It be moreover a helpful scheme back, of whether colossal engineering is the finest reply.

“You are going to be ready to come to a decision on constructing elevated and elevated partitions nevertheless whilst you occur to’ve got got bought a wall that’s 10, 15, 20m above a neighborhood, is that surely the save folk have to stay?”

Why is coastal flooding the type of threat?

Of every form of flooding, an inundation on the hover has long been viewed because the most bad.

When there is intense low stress, the ocean itself is raised in a large bulge and if it’s pushed ashore by stable winds and moreover coincides with a excessive tide, the results is also devastating.

A storm surge in 1953 worked its manner down the East Flit wrecking towns and villages and killing extra than 300 folk.

And the latest climate science makes particular that the heating of the planet will add to the threat.

The realm moderate sea stage is rising by extra than 3mm a three hundred and sixty five days.

Here’s partly attributable to water expands when it warms – what’s identified as “thermal expansion” – and moreover attributable to the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting.

Within the worst-case scenario, the oceans is also about one metre elevated by the stop of the century.

And the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Exchange (IPCC) concluded closing three hundred and sixty five days that impolite coastal floods which can presumably well be currently anticipated once every 100 years may presumably well strike yearly by 2050.

What about locations which can presumably well be unprotected now?

Here’s one of the most sensitive questions of all.

In contrast to Boston, the village of Hemsby on the Norfolk hover is too runt to satisfy the government’s criteria to obtain funding for flood defence.

So there is nothing to stop the ideally worthwhile storm surges racing across the beach and tearing into a sand dune on which many homes are constructed.

Hemsby home

Over time, properties were undermined and have both fallen into the ocean or have wanted to be demolished, and native folk concern that worse is to come encourage.

Lorna Bevan Thompson, who owns a pub in Hemsby and helps to flee a campaign neighborhood, says she’s happy that Boston is being helped nevertheless says her neighborhood is moreover below threat.

“It be a exact hazard to us all now,” she told me.

“We assemble no longer have any protection from the ocean coming into our villages and flooding all our areas.

“Whereas you peek it going, it breaks your heart.”

Hemsby sea defences 2018

She argues that even supposing Hemsby’s population is handiest about 4,000, the village, as a tourist resort, generates tens of hundreds and hundreds of pounds for the economy.

A ragged soldier, Lance Martin, lives in what appears to be Hemsby’s most vulnerable home, perched on top of the dune shut to the ocean.

A recent storm surge gouged out the sand from below his home and forced him to shift the draw ten metres inland for security.

He’s tried to bolster the dune with concrete blocks and lightweight telegraph poles nevertheless there is a limit to what he can stop on his contain.

“There is no one else that’s going to total job for me,” he says.

The actuality is that the geography of our island nation has always shifted, a process role to flee with additional rises in sea stage.

Inevitably, in the decisions about the save to save, there’ll be winners and losers, which is why John Curtin hopes a national dialogue will delivery rapidly.

“If we assemble no longer delivery having these conversations now, in fifty or a hundred years the ocean will opt them anyway.”

Observe David on Twitter.


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