Coastal flooding could become a serious danger to properties in coastal areas over the next 50 years - with three districts in Suffolk and north Essex listed in a "Top 20" of potential danger spots.

Experts from the University of Oxford and the University of East Anglia have drawn up a "league table" of 20 districts in England which have 2,000 or more properties at risk of flooding.

Tendring was at number 10 on the national list, Ipswich was at 11 and East Suffolk was 19th.

The report is published today in the journal Oceans and Coastal Management and looks at the impact of a potential sea level rise by the 2050s.

By 2050 sea levels are expected to be 35% higher than their historic level and lead author of the report Paul Sayers, from the UEA's Tyndall Institute, said the effects could be devastating.

He said: “Significant sea-level rise is now inevitable. For many of our larger cities at the coast, protection will continue to be provided but for some coastal communities this may not be possible.

“We need a serious national debate about the scale of the threat to these communities and what represents a fair and sustainable response, including how to help people to relocate.”

The exact figures for the 20 districts were not published but ranged from 30,000 properties at risk in North Somerset, at the top of the table, to 2,000 in West Lancashire at the bottom.

Across the country between 120,000 and 160,000 properties could be at risk, the report says.

A spokeswoman for the report's authors said she did not know whether the data from Ipswich was gathered before or after the completion of the town's flood defence scheme and barrier became operational in March 2021.

The report also says that while large urban areas like Ipswich should expect flood defences to be enhanced, some smaller coastal communities may have to be abandoned.

Professor Jim Hall, former director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, said: “We need to have honest conversations with coastal communities that it will simply not be possible to protect every house and business from sea level rise.

"These changes are coming sooner than we might think and we need to plan now for how we can adjust, including a nationwide strategic approach to deciding how to manage the coast sustainably in the future.”