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Climate change will make East Anglians refugees, warns Green MEP

05 Nov Climate change will make East Anglians refugees, warns Green MEP

Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the East of England Catherine Rowett has called for greater measures to help people living on East Anglia’s coasts adapt to sea level rise, as a report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee says key questions about flood risk management remain unanswered.

The report highlights warnings that extreme high sea levels which had a 1 percent per year chance of occurring in 1990 could start occurring every twenty days, putting 5,000 coastal homes at risk over the next 20 years. It cites the direct economic damages from coastal flooding and erosion as exceeding £260 million every year, and warns that £120-£150 billion worth of assets are estimated to be at risk from coastal flooding, including roads, railway stations, ports, schools, car homes, power stations and landfill sites.

The report cites Norfolk as being particularly at risk, using the village of Happisburgh as a case study where residents are unhappy at the lack of central government provision to help people at risk of losing their homes. Malcom Kerby, of the Happisburgh Coastal Concern Action Group, said the Government’s current approach was one of “abandonment”, “not adaptation”.

Responding to the report, Catherine Rowett MEP said “East Anglia is now on the frontline of climate breakdown in the UK, and we could soon see people being made refugees as the pace of sea level rise and flooding speeds up and homes and businesses are lost. And it is not only the settlements that are at risk—the Bacton Gas Terminal and the nuclear power plant at Sizewell could be struck, posing a risk to human health from leaks.

“Yet the Government is acting as if the problem didn’t exist, by continuing to subsidise the fossil fuels that are contributing to the crisis, and repeatedly cutting funding for flood preparedness. Unless we start acting now, we face a future in which the people of seaside communities will become climate refugees.

“The Government has to start listening to local people’s concerns and has to prioritise real action that addresses the climate emergency.”