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Letters: Sea defences not enough to tackle climate change

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SIR - Last week's report that New Forest District Council is meeting the £1.5m Phase 1 repair costs to the sea wall at the base of Milford's cliff is very welcome. The immediate safety of several homes is at stake.

But as a scientist I feel compelled to make the following broader points about the mounting costs of the repairs of sea defences. Too little is being done to cut greenhouse emissions and stall sea level rise before it is too late. We all need to take this matter seriously for our children's sake.

Last year our national government did, at last, accept the warnings of the scientific community that long term climate change is happening and that higher sea levels and increased storm surges will cost this country huge sums in building up sea defences.

While the sea in the last century has been rising slowly by only an imperceptible few inches, this process is due to accelerate dramatically in the coming decades as we continue to burn fossil fuels for our energy.

The predicted rise now accepted by the vast majority of those scientists working on the problem is over three feet in the next 100 years, unless we all take action to cut emissions.

The suggestion by local councillors that Milford residents may need to chip in on the 'phase 2' repairs costs to our cliff base should be a wake-up call about what is coming. The costs of shoring up our coastline will rise exponentially in the next decades and someone has to pay.

As Sir David Attenborough has said, the country needs to take actions on a "war-like footing" and move much faster towards energy saving and clean energy generation to stop climate change and save the melting ice caps.

There is much that can be done by councils at a local level to help in the national effort. Coastal councils should be showing particular militancy.

It is surely time for our NFDC to join the hundreds of other local councils which are setting out long term 'climate emergency’ plans so they can play their part in the bigger challenge.

It is a shame to see the NFDC is still dragging its feet despite the clear local message.

Ben Collins, Keyhaven

(Photo credit: Graham Wiffen)

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