New research predicts large swathes of Chichester’s peninsula could be lost due to sea level rises in the next few decades.
Existing examples had already demonstrated the vulnerability of the Manhood Peninsula and parts of Chichester Harbour but the recent scientific research published by Climate Central suggests the situation could be worse than previously predicted.
Save Our South Coast Alliance, a campaign group set up to help protect Chichester Harbour from development, said the settlements most at risk were East and West Wittering, Bracklesham, Selsey, Almodington and Sidlesham, Pagham, Birdham, Dell Quay and Apuldram, Fishbourne, Bosham and the Chidham and Thorney peninsulas.
Richard Weavis, chairman, said: “There is no doubt that climate change is already happening, and in our Chichester Harbour. The last storm showed how East Head is already being eroded and will be the first to go.”
Plans to build 250 new homes in East Wittering, 150 in Selsey and a large mixed-use development between Dell Quay and the A27 are of most concern, say residents.
Carolyn Cobbold, project leader for the Manhood Peninsula Partnership, said: “Sea level rise was a recognised threat when Chichester District Council produced its draft Local Plan but predictions have deteriorated markedly in the last few years. As a result, CDC needs to review its site allocations to take account of the changing situation.”
She says new building on all sites less than 6m above sea level should be reviewed in light of the predicted rises.
Dr Cobbold added: “Our children and grandchildren will consider us incredibly negligent if we continue to build new homes on sites which will almost certainly flood in future decades.
“We should be looking instead to create biodiversity-rich, environmental flood buffer zones across the peninsula and around our harbours to better protect our existing communities rather than putting more new communities at risk.”
Climate Central produced a global mapping system using advanced digital elevation models to demonstrate the coastal inundation expected, according to different pollution scenarios.