Norfolk village battling coastal erosion named ‘climate chaos frontline’

PUBLISHED: 18:13 25 November 2018

The coastline at Happisburgh. Photo: MIKE PAGE

The coastline at Happisburgh. Photo: MIKE PAGE


A Norfolk village disappearing into the sea has been named as on the national frontline in the fight against the devastating effects of climate change.

The coastline at Happisburgh. Photo: MIKE PAGEThe coastline at Happisburgh. Photo: MIKE PAGE

A report by an environmental charity revealed the places in England most at risk from the impact of global warming.

And the north Norfolk village of Happisburgh, where the increased pace of coastal erosion is a threat to the community’s continued existence, is included in the list.

The report is published today by Friends of the Earth, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Climate Change Act.

Campaigner Malcolm Kerby, who founded the Coastal Concern Action Group to protect Happisburgh from being engulfed by the sea, said: “We’re seeing an alarming failure from the government to properly fight climate change.

The coastline at Happisburgh. Photo: MIKE PAGEThe coastline at Happisburgh. Photo: MIKE PAGE

“It’s leaving communities such as Happisburgh to fend for themselves as the sea erodes our cliffs and destroys our homes.

“We’re dealing with climate chaos right now, and we urgently need government help to gradually roll back homes from the crumbling seafront.”

Rising sea levels and increased storminess in the North Sea have accelerated the pace of coastal erosion, while defences have been allowed to collapse.

The sea has claimed hundreds of metres of shore and 35 homes in Happisburgh have been lost.

The Coast Protection Act 1949 made the provision of flood defences voluntary, and the government has historically not compensated those who lose their homes to the sea.

READ MORE: Shocking photos show disappearing Norfolk coast

The British Geological Survey investigated coastal erosion in Norfolk, and the increased speed of this due to climate change.

It found rising sea and increased storm frequency were likely to have a profound impact on coastal erosion and affect sea defence schemes in East Anglia.

Emi Murphy, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “The government must wake up to the fact that climate change is already having awful consequences for communities across England.”

Other areas named as climate change frontlines include moorlands in the North West facing wildfires; York, Leeds and low-lying areas of Somerset at risk of flooding; farming communities in Surrey, Kent and East Anglia faced with drought; and coastal railways in Devon and Cornwall which are collapsing into the sea.

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