Hemsby man joins legal fight against ministers as his home teeters on cliff edge

  • ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray went to meet Kevin Jordan.

A man who is fighting to save his home from the crumbling coastline is joining the legal fight over the government's "unlawful" climate adaptation plans.

In a case believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, Kevin Jordan, from Hemsby, is working with the climate group Friends of the Earth and a disability activist, to file a legal challenge at the High Court.

The campaigners are requesting a judicial review of the government's deficient National Adaptation Programme (NAP), which they claim is "putting people’s lives at risk as the climate crisis worsens".

It comes as the sixth Hemsby home, this year, close to an eroding cliff edge was demolished at the weekend.

Mr Jordan is now part of the Friends of the Earth case, taking the government to court, alleging its failure to set out lawful “adaptation objectives” in its latest plan is a breach of his human rights.

He lives just a few metres from the cliff edge where coastal erosion has seen 18 homes swept away or demolished over the past 10 years.

Mr Jordan, who is a member of the Save Hemsby Coastline campaign, said his home, on the southern edge of the coastal dunes known as The Marrams, is now just five metres from the cliff edge.

The vehicle access to his home had been cut off due to the recent collapse of part of his road into the sea. 

“The collapse of the road made so many more things a struggle," he said.

"From emergency services to bin collections, grocery shopping and even the post, it's been one thing after another. It feels like we’re being forgotten up here.”

When Mr Jordan bought his home 13 years ago, he was told it should be safe for about 100 years.

Hemsby residents say they're among those "bearing the brunt of the government’s lack of robust adaptation plans". They say responses to coastal erosion have been reactive and chaotic.

“My home and others like it don’t fall under the government’s narrow definition of a ‘standard property’ deemed worthy of saving from the threat of destruction," Mr Jordan said.

"Our village and coastal community has been met with almost no meaningful support, and existing climate resilience and coastal defence funding policies completely fail to account for the enormous value Hemsby brings the wider community, and to Norfolk and the rest of the country as a whole."

A bungalow in Hemsby, which lost around four metres of the coastline to the sea during Storm Babet, was demolished at the weekend. Credit: Terry Harris

Under the Climate Change Act 2008, the government is required to produce a National Adaptation Programme every five years, with the latest, NAP3, published in July this year.

The programme is designed to set out adaption objectives, with plans and policies to protect communities from the impacts of climate change.

Friends of the Earth and the other claimants argue that the current plan (NAP3) continues to fall short and is unlawful on the grounds that it breaches the Climate Change Act for failing to set out lawful ‘adaptation objectives’, and for failing to consider and publish an assessment of the risks to delivery of the plans and policies included. 

Will Rundle, Head of Legal at Friends of the Earth, said: “This year has set a string of new global temperature records which have driven deadly heatwaves and wildfires across the world, and last July the UK exceeded 40C for the first time ever. 

“We need our government to take urgent action to curb emissions and put in place credible plans to keep us safe from the extreme weather and impacts of climate change already devastating people’s lives.

"But the government’s latest adaptation plan continues to fall far short of what’s needed – and comes amid backtracking on the green policies needed to tackle climate change."

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs told ITV News it isn't able to comment on ongoing legal proceedings.

In a statement, it said: "The third National Adaptation Programme (NAP3) sets out a strategic five-year plan to boost resilience and protect people, homes, businesses and our cultural heritage against climate change risks.

"It builds on the significant investment in adaptation measures, including £5.2 billion in flood and coastal schemes in England, over £750 million for the Nature for Climate Fund, and £80 million for the Green Recovery Challenge Fund - all of which play a crucial role in enhancing the UK’s resilience to climate change."

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