Are Christchurch’s Coastal and River Defenses Up to the Task?
With alarming predictions suggesting Christchurch, Dorset could be below the annual flood level by 2050, an essential conversation about the adequacy of local coastal and river defenses comes to the fore. A startling revelation made by Climate Central, using the latest sea level projections, has ignited the concerns of both authorities and residents alike. However, reassuring steps are being taken by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (BCP), New Forest District Council (NFDC), and the Environment Agency in crafting a robust coastal strategy.
A Comprehensive Strategy: BCP, NFDC, and Environment Agency’s Collaboration
BCP and NFDC, in collaboration with the Environment Agency, are diligently working to devise a comprehensive strategy that considers a 100-year horizon. The strategy aims to provide sustainable management for the frontage from Hengistbury Head to Hurst Spit, including Christchurch Harbour. This major endeavour is expected to deliver the Christchurch Bay and Harbour Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Strategy by early 2024.
Key Elements of the FCERM Strategy
Key components of the FCERM strategy include identifying when and where specific works are needed, the costs involved, and the potential impact of these works on managing coastal flooding and erosion risks over the next century. The strategy will also take into account the effects of predicted climate change on coastal communities, which include sea level rise and increased levels of storminess.
Public Involvement in Strategy Development
A major aspect of the strategy’s development is public engagement. The Phase 4 Engagement, which ran from November 2022 to January 2023, sought public views on the proposed short list of measures for managing coastal flooding and erosion risk at the local level across the Christchurch Bay and Harbour frontage. These opinions are integral in refining the short list of measures, ensuring their technical, economic, and environmental viability.
The Phased Approach to FCERM
The strategic planning process for FCERM has followed a phased approach. This has included gathering essential information, research, and technical data to understand the potential implications if no actions were taken to defend the coast. The long list of potential coastal risk management measures has been informed by these findings and the views of the public and stakeholders. The goal is to make coastal communities more resilient to flooding, erosion, and the impacts of climate change over the next 100 years.
The Impact of Collaborative Coastal Management
This bold, proactive initiative is a strong testament to the commitment of BCP, NFDC, and the Environment Agency to ensure that the picturesque coastal towns of Christchurch, Bournemouth, and Poole are prepared for the future. The local community’s involvement in shaping the strategy has provided a model of collaboration, resilience, and foresight.
Looking Forward: The Anticipation of FCERM Strategy’s Finalisation
As we await the finalisation of the FCERM Strategy in 2024, the efforts towards understanding and combating the potential risks of climate change are well underway. In the face of unsettling sea level rise projections, the sense of urgency is high, but so too is the resolve to safeguard our coastal towns and their future generations. It’s clear: the wheels are firmly in motion to fortify Christchurch’s defenses against the tidal wave of climate change.
Your Source for a Sustainable Future: Bournemouth Observer Environment.