A national strategy is urgently needed to help coastal areas adapt to rising sea levels and extreme weather, according to the National Trust.
One of the UK’s biggest coastal owners, the Trust has seen many of its sites battered by recent storms, with Birling Gap in East Sussex experiencing seven years’ erosion this winter.
In its Shifting Shores - adapting to change report, the National Trust has urged the Government in England and Wales to work creatively on policies manage the coast.
‘There is a natural inclination to want to defend the coastline with concrete,’ natural environment director at the National Trust, Simon Pryor, said. ‘But our coastline is dynamic and the forces of nature that have formed it are part of its beauty.’
The National Trust, which cares for 742 miles of coast in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, will have adaptation strategies in place for its 70 coastal places most at risk of erosion or flooding by 2020.
Around 60% of land under Trust care along coastlines is at risk of flooding or erosion in the 21st century – with 15% of these sites potentially losing more than 100 metres of land to the way.
‘Hard defences will always have their place, but the winter storms that hit many coastal places hard have provided a valuable reminder that they have a limited life,’ Pryor added.
‘In parallel to adapting our coast to cope with climate change there is a clear need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid further accelerating climate change and the risk of even more dramatic storm damage.
‘Communities living on the coast, landowners, government agencies and local and central government all need to work together now to find solutions based around an adaptation approach to help future-proof the coastline.’