Managing the English coast in a changing climate

16:15 Tuesday 28 May


Room S11


Andrew Russell (United Kingdom) 1

1 - Committee on Climate Change

This presentation considers the long-term issues resulting from climate change impacts on the English coast and examines the policy responses in England to these changes. Three main areas will be covered:

  1. The assets at risk in England from coastal flooding and erosion for the present day and in the future.
  2. The costs and benefits of implementing England’s ‘Shoreline Management Plans’ (SMPs).
  3. The barriers to effective coastal adaptation and what needs to be done to overcome those barriers.

Overall, we conclude that the current approach to coastal management in England is unsustainable in the face of climate change. Based on the details of the SMPs, our analysis shows that a significant proportion of the English coastline is not cost beneficial to protect. This applies to some areas where the proposed policy is to protect. Other important issue relate to the increase in assets exposed as a result of sea level rise, the reduction in the area of natural environments that protect the coast and the vulnerability of coastal defences in the face of sea level rise.

The barriers to effective coastal management identified are: the uncertainty surrounding funding; the lack of capacity to engage effected communities or provide robust projections of risk; the demographics of coastal communities; the complex nature of the relevant legislation; and the different priorities of the network of organisations responsible for different aspects of managing the risk. We propose methods to overcome these barriers within the framework of adaptation pathways.