source: Sky News

Sea Levels 'Impossible' To Defend Against

As fears grow of a metre sea level rise by the end of the century, the Environment Agency has told Sky News Online it is impossible to defend all of Britain's coastline.

Many places along the UK's East Coast will become particularly vulnerable to flooding.
The Environment Agency (EA) is already planning new defences. It has chosen to spend £50m on protection in Ipswich, including a new barrier, like that already across the Thames.
Just along the coast, Jaywick near Clapton has also been given sea defences to protect the 2,600 homes that lie almost at sea level.

But with 1.7 million properties in flood risk areas in the UK, many other places will not be as lucky.

EA chairman Lord Smith told Sky News Online: "We're not going to be able to protect every single inch of coastline. We've got something like 2 thousand miles of sea defences already that we have to maintain, that we have to keep in order.
"There are some places where even if we had a completely bottomless purse, er, we wouldn't be able to defend... Happisborough I'm afraid is one of those.''
The village of Happisburgh in Norfolk is fast losing its battle with the sea.
For years, residents have watched as cliffs supporting their houses have crumbled.

Diana Wrightson feels the government has abandoned them: ''It's disappeared very quickly," she said."One year we lost eight metres from the front. This year we've lost one, so you cannot tell how fast it's going to happen. It depends on the weather and the tides."

A metre rise would mean many areas of the UK would be inundated, particularly along the East Coast, if new defences are not built. Hull, East Anglia, much of the Thames Estuary and Portsmouth are among the main areas at risk.

For most of the UK, storm surges, fuelled by extreme weather, will cause the most damage.
Professor Tim Lenton from the University of East Anglia told Sky News Online the East Anglian coast will be worst hit.

He said: "We know when that mixture goes wrong and we get the high tide and the weather and the wind behind it - on the back of a risen global sea level - then we have the concern for big flooding events."

A recent report predicted the cost of damage from sea levels rising could increase from £1.5bn a year to £21bn a year by the 2080's.

So while protecting most places may be possible, the question is whether the huge Government investment needed for the defences will be forthcoming.