Thousands of homes along the South West coast 'at risk' of falling into the sea

Homes along the Devonshire coastline are being affected by climate change

Thousands of homes on the South West coast are at risk of falling into the sea by the end of the century, according to a climate action group.

One Home says Cornwall and Dorset will be among the worst affected areas as water levels rise.

Overall the group's research shows £600 million worth of coastal homes in England could be lost to the sea by 2100.

It identified 21 at-risk villages and hamlets using data from the Environment Agency and estimated how much coast could be lost there, assuming that current policies on whether to defend, retreat or abandon sections of coastline are followed.

The group has compiled a map highlighting what shoreline management plans are in place in different areas and what the level of protection is.

The most at-risk communities are on England’s east coast with Downderry, Marazion and Perranuthnoe in Cornwall amongst the worst.

The research estimates 38 homes will be lost in the Downderry and Rame Head area, while an estimated 28 properties could disappear in the Marazion East and Perranuthnoe area.

Angela Terry, chief executive of One Home, said: “Sea levels are rising as global temperatures soar and so larger waves batter our coast during severe storms.

“These irreversible changes mean some cliff faces are crumbling fast.

"We can’t turn the tide or build a wall around the entire coast so we urgently need to help seaside communities to prepare for the damage that will come.

“Shoreline management plans are publicly available documents but most people are unaware of their existence.

“Many homeowners don’t know their properties are at risk or that decisions have been made about whether to protect them or not.

Leonards Cove Holiday Park in Devon is one of the businesses affected by coastal erosion

“SMPs are not statutory, so new developments can continue.

“Funding is not guaranteed so even where communities have been chosen to be saved, the money might not be there, giving people false hope that their home will be protected long term.

“One Home’s aim with this map is to explain SMPs in an easy-to-digest way so that homeowners are sufficiently informed to make timely decisions about their properties to reduce future harm.

“Currently, for those homes at risk, there is no compensation scheme available.“

More than a third of England’s coastline has a designation of “no active intervention”, One Home said, meaning that nothing will be done.

The other two levels of protection in shoreline management plans are “hold the line”, meaning that defences will be maintained and upgraded if funding is found, and “managed realignment” which involves moving or allowing the shoreline to retreat in a managed way.

Bude's iconic storm tower at Compass Point is one of the landmarks in Cornwall that is at risk

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We know the devastating impact that flooding and coastal change can have, which is why improving the resilience of people and communities is our top priority.

“From 2015 to 2021, we invested £1.2 billion to better protect around 200,000 homes from coastal erosion and sea flooding.

“However, climate change means that our coast is changing at an accelerated rate, meaning in some places we and coastal authorities will need to help local communities adapt and transition away from the current coastline.

“We are working closely with communities and local authorities to provide support and guidance, including through the Coastal Accelerator Transition Programme.“