As the effects of climate change increase over the next 100 years, coastal regions globally are likely to experience significant adverse change through erosion and enhanced flooding.
For that reason, several countries have introduced national designations – such as Coastal Change Management Areas (CCMAs) in the UK – which aim to manage new development in potentially vulnerable areas.
The aim of these buffer zones is to reduce the impact of coastal erosion on loss of life, avoid wasted investment in buildings, roads and infrastructure, and help prepare communities to build resilience to future climate change.
However, a new study by researchers at the University of Plymouth shows that since the concept of CCMAs was introduced by the UK government in 2012, only 15% of coastal planning authorities in England have designated one, covering just 5.7% of the coast of England.
Another 14% of local authorities have plans to introduce CCMAs in the immediate future and 7% had been considering them.
The study also found that, where CCMAs have been designated, a variety of methodologies have been used to determine the predicted impact of sea-level rise around the coast by different local authorities.
These methods failed to incorporate current climate projections of sea-level rise and the accelerated rate of coastal erosion and/or enhanced coastal flooding.
The research was carried out by members of the University’s Coastal Processes Research Group, which comprises some of the world’s leading academics examining the effects of climate change and sea-level rise on the coast and its infrastructure and communities.