Campaigners’ clifftop vigil to highlight climate change erosion

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New Forest erosion
Waves from recent storms have badly damaged the seawall at Milford

THE dramatic impact of storm surges and heavy winter rain on the local environment has prompted green groups to hold a coastal vigil this weekend to raise awareness of climate change.

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The collapsing cliff at Milford, the eroding of Hurst shingle bank and the disappearing Lymington marshes are all cited as examples of problems which require urgent action.

While there are many explanations for the increasing damage, the extreme weather events and storms associated with climate change are considered a big part of the cause, argue local environmentalists.

Barton cliffs
Walkers have been warned to keep clear of the erosion at Barton cliffs

One of the organisers of the vigil, Ben Collins, told the A&T: “Internationally, scientists have called for all countries to make every effort to cut fossil fuel emissions to zero by 2030.

“Locally, the cost of marshland restoration and building stronger sea defences will become an ever-increasing challenge given predicted storm surge increases in the years ahead.

“The new government’s late acknowledgement of the need to move to clean energy is considered a big help but the scientific evidence is that much more will need to be done, and sooner.”

The vigil will start at 2.30pm on Sunday at Milford promenade near the Needles Eye café in Hurst Road.

Among those taking part are the New Forest Friends of the Earth, Transition Lymington and Extinction Rebellion New Forest, along with other community groups.

Barton cliffs
The cliffs between Barton and Milford are gradually being washed into the sea

“The aim is to send a clear message to both the UK government and to local councils that Milford and Lymington residents want their concerns to be heard,” Ben explained.

“As coastal people they will be first witnesses of the impact of climate change and sea level rise on cliffs, beaches and marshes. Scientists have predicted a trend towards even more extreme storms in the years ahead if planet-warming emissions are not cut back as soon as possible.

“It will take the people on the front line to take a lead and give us a sense of urgency on the government’s need to double down on cutting greenhouse gases.

“One vigil may not change the world, but if it supports those in power who are doing the right thing, if it prompts those who are sceptical to re-consider the science and if it inspires others in our communities to stand up for clean energy, then it will have achieved its aim.”

New Forest Friends of the Earth coordinator Fiona Rogers said: “It’s good to see local residents seeking to show their concern about the devastating effects of climate change along our fragile coastline.

“The vigil will hopefully draw more attention to coastal erosion, which needs addressing as a matter of urgency and at the highest level.”

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