UK homes being swallowed up by the sea

By John Mercury March 9, 2024

Simon Measures moved to Hemsby in Norfolk from Northamptonshire hoping for a quieter life by the sea.

But it’s been a stormy few days, and he’s been losing sleep.

“Whenever there is a high wind predicted with a high tide, we don’t sleep very well,” Mr Measures said.

That’s because the sand dunes below his house are eroding. He tells Sky News they’ve lost three metres in just a couple of days.

Part of the road have already fallen away and the properties in front of his are getting closer to the edge.

Hemsby road collapse for erosion lead (Heap)
A road collapse in Hemsby

Hemsby Beach
The dunes on Hemsby Beach are eroding

Once they’ve gone – his home will be next.

Further up what was once the road is a gaping hole where Kevin Jordan’s home stood until it was demolished last year.

Mr Jordan said: “I had a knock on the door, the evening just after the storm, and it was someone from Yarmouth Borough Council building control.

“They handed me a letter saying, I’ve got seven days to get out. I had nowhere to go.”

Due to Kevin’s mobility issues, he’s classed as vulnerable and has been provided with accommodation.

But his is a special case.

Click to subscribe to ClimateCast with Tom Heap wherever you get your podcasts

There’s no compensation, alternative accommodation or insurance payout for most people who lose their homes due to coastal erosion.

The accelerating rate of coastal erosion isn’t exclusive to Norfolk.

According to a survey from One Home using government data, 21 villages and hamlets in England will lose more than half a billion pounds worth of residential property to coastal erosion by 2100.

It means difficult decisions need to be made about what should be saved, and what should be left to the sea.

Hemsby homes for erosion lead (Heap)
What should be saved and what should be left to the sea?

Hemsby beach for erosion lead (Heap)
Hemsby beach

Currently money is allocated according to the value of what’s being protected.

This is sensible in one way as cities with big economies and big populations get big seawalls, but in rural areas it can mean expensive homes owned by the wealthy are defended but cheaper housing isn’t deemed worth it.

The people we met in Norfolk say they feel abandoned, but the government says it’s increasing funding.

Floods minister Robbie Moore told us they recognise climate change means the coast is disappearing faster, and they are planning to do something about it.

Mr Moore said: “Over the next six-year funding programme, we’re increasing that nationally from £2.6bn to £5.2bn, with specifically more money being allocated to Norfolk.”

Bryony’s already lost one home to the sea, and she expects to lose another this year.

Read more:
Radical idea to protect ‘doomsday’ Thwaites Glacier
The tenant farmers targeted by solar developers

Bryony Happisburgh for erosion lead (Heap)
The village of Happisburgh has faced severe erosion which Bryony has felt

For her, that extra funding will likely come too late.

She said: “When I get up to go to the loo and look out the window, I think ‘I’m not going to have this much longer’.

“It’s quite depressing. Actually it’s seriously depressing.”

Coastal erosion is a natural process, now being accelerated by humanity’s pollution so more of us are now paying the price.

Watch the Climate Show with Tom Heap, Saturday and Sunday at 3.30 and 7.30pm on Sky News


Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *