Climate group warns communities of cost

Houses sit on the edge of the cliff at The Marrams in Hemsby, Norfolk, where parts of the cliff collapsed into the sea in 2018.

Coastal homes worth an estimated £584m could be lost to the sea by 2100, a climate action group has claimed.

One Home compiled a map identifying 21 at-risk towns and villages spread across England.

He warned people living in coastal areas that protection and compensation may not be available at all.

“We urgently need to help coastal communities prepare for the damage to come,” said One Home CEO Angela Terry.

The group said 2,218 properties were vulnerable in locations on its interactive map, from Cornwall, along the south and east coast, and in Cumbria.

It used data from the National Coastal Erosion Risk Mapping (NCERM) dataset of the Environment Agency.

Policies on whether to defend, withdraw or abandon sections of shoreline were contained in shoreline management plans (SMPs), but while readily available to view, SMPs were not a guarantee of support, One Home said.

Unstable cliff sign at Hemsby

One Home says many coastal residents may not be aware of decisions being made around their property

Ian Brennan of Save Hemsby Coastline revealed that the prospect of storm damage was having “a huge effect on the mental health” of the local population.

He said more than 90 homes in the Norfolk town could be lost in the next 25 years if nothing is done.

‘Irreversible changes’

Ms Terry said: “Sea levels are rising as global temperatures rise and therefore bigger waves hit our coastline during severe storms.

“These irreversible changes mean that some cliffs are crumbling fast.

“We can’t turn the tide or build a wall around the entire coastline, so we urgently need to help coastal communities prepare for the damage to come.”

“Coastal management plans are publicly available documents, but most people are unaware of their existence.”

She said the map would explain SMPs in an “easy to digest way” as property owners might not know their property was at risk or decisions were being made about them.

“Even where communities have been chosen to save, the money may not be there, giving people false hope that their home will be protected in the long term,” he said.

“Homeowners could be asked to pay to demolish their homes while still paying their mortgage.”

More than a third of England’s coastline has an “active non-intervention” designation, One Home said, meaning nothing more would be done to defend against erosion.

A house teetering on the edge of a cliff being demolished in Hemsby, Norfolk.

Houses along Marrams, in Hemsby, Norfolk, had to be demolished in 2018 after a storm surge

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We know the devastating impact flooding and coastal change can have, so improving the resilience of people and communities is our top priority.

“From 2015 to 2021, we invested £1.2bn to better protect around 200,000 homes from coastal erosion and marine flooding.

“However, climate change means that our coastline is changing at a rapid rate, which means that in some places we and coastal authorities will need to help local communities adapt and move away from the current coastline.”

The 21 communities at risk were:

  • Chuck Bank, Northumberland

  • Wilsthorpe to Atwick, East Riding of Yorkshire

  • Rolston to Waxholme, East Riding of Yorkshire

  • Hollym to Dimlington Cliffs, East Riding of Yorkshire

  • Easington to Kilnsea, East Riding of Yorkshire

  • Overstrand, Norfolk

  • Trimingham, Norfolk

  • Mundesley, Norfolk

  • Bacton and Walcott, Norfolk

  • Happisburgh, Norfolk

  • Hemsby, Norfolk

  • Clear Point, nr Brightlingsea, Essex

  • Minster Slopes to Warden Point, Isle of Sheppey, Kent

  • Fairlight Cove and Cliff End, East Sussex

  • Colwell Bay, Isle of Wight

  • Binstead and Quarr, Isle of Wight

  • Thorness Bay, Isle of Wight

  • Durlston Bay, Dorset

  • Downderry, Cornwall

  • Marazion East and Perranuthnoe, Cornwall

  • Coulderton and Nethertown, Cumbria

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