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Coastal protection plans 'not fit for purpose'

Hemsby in Norfolk is seeing the effects of coastal erosion. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Plans to protect the coastal communities around Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex from flooding and erosion are not fit for purpose, according to a new report.

The Committee on Climate Change says sea levels will rise by a metre in around 80 years, putting more than one million homes in England at risk. They are calling for the Government to be better prepared.

Professor Jim Hall, the Committee on Climate Change, said: “As the climate changes the current approach to protecting the English coastline is not fit for purpose."

More of our communities will be at risk from rising sea levels. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Prof Hall added: "It’s time people woke up to the very real challenges ahead. As sea levels rise and flooding and erosion get worse, we have assessed that current plans for around 150 kilometres, or 90 miles, of the coastline are not cost-beneficial to implement.

"The Government and local authorities need to talk honestly with those affected about the difficult choices they face.

"This is a wake-up call to the fact we can't protect the whole English coast to today's standards."

– Baroness Brown

"Climate change is not going away: action is needed now to improve the way England’s coasts are managed today and in the future, to reduce the polluting emissions which cause climate change, and to prepare seaside communities for the realities of a warming world.”

The committee has called on the Government and local authorities to engage properly with people about the future, which would take time and money.

It said ministers must make funding and investment available to protect cities, restore coastal habitats and help affected communities cope with the inevitable changes, which may include moving from where they currently are.

Baroness Brown, from the Committee on Climate Change's, said: "This is a wake-up call to the fact we can't protect the whole English coast to today's standards.

"Quite understandably most people living on the coast will assume that's exactly what will happen, that it will remain protected.

"We want to stimulate some honest conversation with coastal communities and affected places about the difficult choices which lie ahead."

A Government spokesman said: "The Environment Secretary has been very clear - we will take the action required to ensure our country is resilient and prepared for the challenges the changing climate brings.

"The Government has already committed £1.2 billion of investment in coastal erosion and sea flooding projects over the next six years to better protect 170,000 homes.

"We welcome the committee's report which will inform our work to tackle increasing flood and coastal erosion risks, ahead of the publication of our Government Policy Statement on flooding and coastal erosion next year."