Suffolk peer warns coastal communities ‘climate change is going to get worse’

Lord Deben, pictured centre, with Bawdsey Coastal Partnership members, l-r, vice chairman Anne Page,

Lord Deben, pictured centre, with Bawdsey Coastal Partnership members, l-r, vice chairman Anne Page, treasurer Christopher Langley, chairman Nick Crick and regional chairman of East Anglian Regional Flood and Coasal Committee Paul Hayden. Picture: ANDREW HIRST - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk peer who advises the Government on climate change has warned coastal communities that weather is set to become more extreme and have a “much bigger impact” on our environment.

Examples of coastal erosion on the beach at Thorpeness. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Examples of coastal erosion on the beach at Thorpeness. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Lord Deben made the comments to Bawdsey Coastal Partnership’s AGM on Saturday, when he told the members “climate change is going to get worse”.

“We must not kid ourselves about the damage that climate change is causing,” he added.

“All the evidence is that it is likely to increase rather than the opposite.”

Lord Deben, who chairs the Committee on Climate Change, highlighted changes in rainfall patterns, with long arid periods followed by “enormous quantities” of precipitation, as examples of weather phenomenon becoming more extreme.


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He also gave an example in Thorpeness, where 40ft of land was recently lost to the sea overnight, and pointed to seasonal changes happening earlier each year, which he said was evident to people living in rural communities.

Lord Deben, who was Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer from 1997-2010 and also Secretary of State for the Environment from 1993-97, said Government policy on climate change and flood defences had suffered at times from blinkered attitudes.

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Whereas once Government had once been of a view “we know everything and we do everything”, he said Government now recognised the importance of involving local organisations, such as Bawdsey Coastal Partnership.

However, he said there was still need for greater “proportionality” in response from organisations, including the Environment Agency and Natural England, which he said should “get off their high horse”.

Lord Deben said the organisations were often too reluctant to take action that might have a downside - even when it was for the greater good.

“We really do need to take a more balanced view,” he said.

Despite his warnings over climate change, Lord Deben said “we are all very lucky” to be living at this time as people across the world were beginning to understand the need to take action.

“We are not going to win the battle against climate change unless we win it locally everywhere,” he said.

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