HC Deb 09 July 1996 vol 281 cc163-4W
Mr. David Porter

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what changes to sea defence or coastal protection policy and funding he plans to make to respond to predicted sea level rises in East Anglia by(a) 2020 and (b) 2050; and if he will make a statement. [36023]

Mr. Boswell

The Ministry fully recognises the need to plan for possible sea level rises and has, since 1989, issued guidance to operating authorities inter alia on allowances for particular stretches of coastline.

For East Anglia the allowance recommended by the Ministry is 6 mm per year or 6 cm per decade. Also, MAFF advice on best practice for coastal defences recommends that consideration is given to incorporating flexibility as coastal defences are renewed or improved to allow for any future change in predictions, particularly where coastal defences have an effective life beyond 2030.

The second report of the UK climate change impacts review group announced on 2 July 1996 by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment provides an analysis of impacts in the UK and suggests that sea levels could rise at a rate of 5 cm per decade, with more rapid sea level rises along the East Anglian and south coast, taking into account predicted vertical land movements.

The Ministry will keep under review guidance on the allowances to be made in the planning of coastal defence measures for sea level rise in the light of the CCIRG report and continuing national and international studies. The Ministry also funds research projects addressing the implications of climate change to ensure a consonant coastal defence response. In addition, the Ministry funds a national tide gauge network which monitors changes in sea level and geological movement. Decisions on future funding, through Ministry grants, will continue to be based on an analysis of priority works, taking account of the impact of climate change.