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11/04/2014

National Trust demands coastal strategy for rising sea levels and storms

Words: Huw Morris
Coastal storm

The UK needs a clear national strategy to help coastal areas adapt to the twin pressures of rising sea levels and extreme weather, the National Trust said today.

The trust, which owns 742 miles of coast in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said many of its sites have been battered by storms and high tides, with one site - Birling Gap in East Sussex - seeing seven years of erosion this winter.
 
The Trust is calling on the English and Welsh governments to get their planning policies on managing change into practice at the coast. Ministers should consider a fresh programme of coastal change management area pilots.
 
In Northern Ireland, the executive has yet to establish a system of shoreline planning and the Trust is calling on ministers to tackle this policy gap.
 
"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," said the Trust's natural environment director Simon Pryor. "Where we can we need to give natural processes that have formed our coast the space to work, and create areas where the coastline can realign as the sea levels rise.
 
"Natural habitats such as sand dunes and salt marshes can act as buffer zones that absorb the impact of storms and very high tides."
 
Around 60 per cent of the Trust's coastline is at risk of erosion this century, with 15 per cent of these sites potentially losing more than 100 metres of land to the sea.
 

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