Friday, February 7, 2014

Sealevel rise is acutely felt in England recently with repeated storms, read Should coastal Britain surrender to the tides? | Environment | The Guardian

Should coastal Britain surrender to the tides? | Environment | The Guardian

New kinds of coastal adaptation must be judged when the going gets tough. The largest managed realignment scheme on the open coast in Europe was completed late last year at Medmerry, West Sussex. Like most locals, Alan Chamberlain, manager of Medmerry Park holiday village, was horrified when the Environment Agency proposed punching a hole in the sea defences and "letting the sea go". But it protected homes with four miles of new floodbanks inland and turned agricultural land into lakes and marshes. Locals scoffed that £28m was being spent on creating a bird reserve, but when it was hammered by the January storms, it worked. "It's really been tested. We're just amazed at how well we've come out of it," says Chamberlain. "Normally by now we would've had flooding, but we've had none at all."
Sometimes, there is no need to choose between protecting people or countryside: Medmerry's new wetlands have enabled the holiday village to revamp itself as an ecotourism destination. And realignment projects that help wildlife can tap into funding unavailable to conventional coastal defences. Orford Ness coped with the winter storms better than expected because of new ditches, sluices and lagoons created by a €1m wildlife project funded by EU LIFE+. Ironically, this was designed to help rare birds during droughts, but the measures have alleviated the floods.

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