HC Deb 19 September 2002 vol 390 cc299-300W
Mr. Greg Knight

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent evaluation her Department has carried out on the risk posed to seaside communities by rising sea levels; and if she will make a statement. [72945]

Mr. Morley

The updated National Appraisal of Assets at Risk of Flooding and Coastal Erosion in England and Wales, distributed in September 2001 by DEFRA, provided a revised comprehensive estimate of risks from flooding and coastal erosion, including a preliminary assessment of the potential change of impact associated with climate change. The risk to coastal communities was included in this assessment.

Management of coastal risk from flooding and coastal erosion is informed through the development of Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs). The earliest of the first round of SMPs is now due for revision. Research by DEFRA to improve understanding of coastal erosion processes around the coastline of England and Wales will be made available soon to coastal authorities to assist development of the second round of SMPs. This includes guidance on the likely impact of sea level rise on coastal processes. This improved understanding will allow an assessment of the likely change of risk to coastal communities as a result of sea level rise to be made during review of the local SMP.

DEFRA manages the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) which reported on regional climate change impact earlier this year. Research carried out under UKCIP does not suggest that the sea level rise allowances used in the design of flood and coastal erosion management solutions needs to be changed for the time being.