Why climate change is more dangerous for Isles of Scilly than anywhere else in UK

ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship reports on the climate message delivered to Prince Charles


Visiting the stunning Isles of Scilly during the hottest spell of weather anyone here can remember, with blue skies and turquoise seas, it's hard to imagine how these islands are at the mercy of the ocean at other times of year.

The archipelago of 200 islands – 30 miles from Lands End – is uniquely vulnerable to rising sea levels.

In fact, nowhere in the British Isles is more exposed to the consequences of climate change.

It was a message delivered to Prince Charles on Tuesday from schoolchildren, who – looking ahead to the major UN climate change summit later this year – have urged world leaders to act.



The prince and Duchess of Cornwall were at Five Islands Academy – the only secondary school for the children of the five inhabited islands here.

Despite their remote location – many pupils formed their own climate emergency march when the mass demonstrations took place around the world last year.

So when leading politicians meet at the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November, the pupils on these islands in the south-western corner of the UK are demanding to see action.

“It shouldn’t be primary school children taking action on something this big, the adults should set a bit of an example,” said Fraser Clark who has just finished Year 11.


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Prince Charles spends much of his time trying to push the issue of climate change up the political agenda.

He spoke about it when the leaders of the G7 nations met at the summit in Cornwall in June.

The younger children showed the royal visitors their vegetable patch and bee-keeping while older ones spoke about the Eco Council they had set up.

Much of the land on the Scillies is only a few metres above sea level and at just 50 metres, the high point of St Mary’s, the main island, is only about as high as Nelson’s Column.

It means the Scillies’ position in the Atlantic Ocean leaves this coastal community dangerously exposed to warming temperatures and more fierce storms coupled with small rises in sea levels.

The Prince of Wales meets children at Five Islands Academy School during a visit to St Mary's, Isles of Scilly Credit: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA

Rates of sea level rise here are currently higher than anywhere else in the UK and scientists estimate the average wave height around the islands could increase by as much as a metre by 2080.

On the island of Bryher, home to just 80 people, the Pender family has fished these waters since the 1600s.

Their company, Island Fish, supplies seafood to tourists and residents across the Scillies and after being in his daily catch today, they spoke to us about the fierce conditions they endure here in the winter months.

Their immediate concern is keeping a successful business to hand to their children but longer term, they say islanders will just have to adapt to whatever nature throws their way.

Amanda Pender, who has a husband, son, father and brother who work in the family firm said: ”The families who have lived here over the centuries have adapted to changes and I am very confident that children of ours know that if you live on an island - you have to be resourceful. They will adapt.”

But when word attention turns to the COP26 summit in November, in this corner of the UK, they will be paying close attention to the climate change commitments they make.