Exmouth - the new Atlantis?

PUBLISHED: 10:23 14 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:00 10 June 2010

THE seafront and the town up to Phear Park could be swallowed up by the sea in future generations - unless local authorities and the Government take action, climate change experts have warned.

THE seafront and the town up to Phear Park could be swallowed up by the sea in future generations - unless local authorities and the Government take action, climate change experts have warned.

A meeting of the Exe Estuary Forum heard predictions that Devon would be eight per cent drier by 2020 and sea levels could rise between 20 and 80cm by 2080.

This would put low-lying areas of Exmouth town at risk of flooding.

The meeting, which was opened by Devon County Council's Climate Change Officer Ian Bateman, discussed the possible impact of global warming on The Exe and its coastal towns.

Martin Davies, of the Environment Agency, said: "By 2115 Exmouth could be three metres under water (from flooding) up to Belvedere Road and there is a risk of a longer duration of floods."

He said the current flood plain covering Exmouth up to Phear Park, Topsham Quay, land along the River Clyst and parts of Lympstone were in increasing danger of flooding.

"There will also be a higher water table - in Weymouth, groundwater is coming behind tidal defences," he added.

The Environment Agency speaker stressed that the threat was a combination of increased area at risk of flooding, plus the fact that the height of flood water would rise by one metre within 100 years and that the frequency of major floods would be once every eight years.

The forum also heard about the effects of climate change on wildlife in Devon. Gavin Bloomfield, of the RSPB, questioned the future need for conservation areas along the Exe Estuary if it was attracting less wildlife - eight out of nine short-stopping waders are already shifting north and east.

Graeme Smith, from the South Devon and Dorset Coastal Authorities Group (SDADCAG), said the group would be providing local authorities with recommendations on what to do about the increasing flood risk and the predicted effects of climate change.

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) will recommend one or a combination of the following options:

Local authorities will consider the recommendations, which will be subject to public consultation, before deciding what action to take and looking to the Government for funding.

The latest SMP findings, including suggestions for Exmouth's flood defences, will be revealed at a public meeting in Exeter on Tuesday, November 18.

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