UK’s disappearing coastline: Coastal towns at risk of being wiped out over next 20 years

A Journal of People report

Around 7,000 homes in England will disappear into the sea by the end of the century. Happisburgh in Norfolk will be worst hit with 318ft of erosion in the next 20 years.

Figures from Plymouth University, cited by the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership, found that coastal erosion is occurring along 17% of the UK coastline – comprising 30% of England’s coastline; 23% in Wales; 20% in Northern Ireland and 12% of the Scottish coastline.

In December a study from price comparison site using Environmental Agency data predicted the shocking speed of erosion on England’s coastline within the next century, with thousands of homes at risk of collapsing into the sea as the coastline fades away.
It calculated that 7,000 homes, worth more than £1bn, will fall into the sea over the next 100 years and also showed that 520,000 properties are in areas with coastal flooding risk – a figure that could treble to 1.5 million in the next 60 years without further action.
The following areas of England’s coastline will be the worst hit by erosion:
1. Happisburgh, Norfolk, Land eroded after 20 yrs (LEA): 318 feet (97m)
2. Kessingland, Suffolk (LEA): 230 feet (70m)
3. Hornsea, East Riding of Yorkshire (LEA): 223 feet (68m)
4. Withernsea, East Riding of Yorkshire (LEA): 200 feet (61m)
5. Sunderland, Tyne & Wear (LEA): 131 feet (40m)
6. Filey, North Yorkshire (LEA): 131 feet (40m)
7. Camber, East Sussex (LEA):131 feet (40m)
8. Pevensey Bay, East Sussex (LEA):131 feet (40m)
9. Shoreham-By-Sea, West Sussex (LEA):131 feet (40m)
10. Bognor Regis, West Sussex (LEA):131 feet (40m)
Experts found that the east coast is being hardest hit, with the erosion rate the fastest in Yorkshire and the Humber, where 56 per cent of the coastline is at risk.
Around a third of the coast in the south of England is being actively eroded — threatening such areas as Norfolk, Suffolk and East/West Sussex.
Protection is particularly needed in the counties of Norfolk, Tyne and Wear, Suffolk and Yorkshire over the next two decades.
The erosion figures are based on a scenario in which no active interventions are made to help halt the coastline’s retreat — and predicts the state of the UK’s vulnerable coastal areas over the next 20, 50 and 100 years.
Agency data also suggests that around 520,000 properties are presently in areas that are at risk of coastal flooding.
If no action is taken, experts warn, this figure could be trebled to around 1.5 million homes by the 2080s.
According to UK environment minister Thérèse Coffey, ‘one in six people in England are already living in properties at risk of flooding.’
This hazard is exacerbated by coastal erosion, rising sea levels and climate change.
‘Coastal erosion has become one of the most worrying issues for UK homeowners in seaside towns,’ said head of home Tom Vaughan.
‘Our research highlights the increasing risk that many coastal residents are facing, to the point where some are ultimately looking at losing their homes over the next 20 years.’
‘As land erodes, we could be seeing more expensive insurance premiums, as the danger of damage from climate change is higher than living inland.’
The map, he added, has been designed to help people living in areas with a high risk of erosion understand what this means for them.
To this end, the map also reveals the average cost of rebuilding a home in each area to replace those lost to the sea.

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