ADAPTABILITY and pragmatism will be the National Trust’s policy to meet the twin pressures of rising sea levels and extreme weather, says the South West’s marine advisor Tony Flux.
Mr Flux, speaking from the Golden Cap estate this week said the just released National Trust’s report ‘Shifting Shores – adapting to change’ was a refreshed look at all the Trust’s coastal estate in the light of climate change.
He said: “We recognise and accept the coast is changing, it always has but the thing that is different today as opposed to 300 years ago is that it is changing much more rapidly.”
This meant, he said, that since 1900 the English Channel has risen 19cms.
He said: “The consequences might seem very marginal but in fact they are quite noticeable, particularly on our shallow beaches like Charmouth and Burton Bradstock, which means the high tide marks are much further inland.
He said the Shifting Shores report says it’s the thinking that has to be adapted to meet these changes.
He said: “What we are saying is the best approach is to allow the natural processes to work unhindered – not to try and hold back the tide.”
The exceptions are where there is a lot of infrastructure – as in the flood defence works in Lyme Regis.
He said: “That is it perfectly understandable, acceptable and reasonable – you have so much infrastructure there. It would be unrealistic to say let it all go.”
The Trust has now looked at every single one of its properties and made an assessment on how to respond to the changes and in West Dorset that is mostly concerned with the coast path.
He said: “At Burton Bradstock we noted 10 years ago it was getting very close to the edge. We know that is an eroding coast line - how would you defend that particular piece of coast, it is virtually impossible and who would want to see concrete walls all the way along?”
The Shifting Shores report says a clear national strategy is urgently needed.
Simon Pryor, natural environment director at the National Trust, said: “There is a natural inclination to want to defend the coastline with concrete, but our coastline is dynamic and the forces of nature that have formed it are part of its beauty. “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.”