See how global warming could affect Chichester in Save Our Harbour Villages video

Chidham and Hambrook from the air
Chidham and Hambrook from the air

Using climate change software, Save Our Harbour Villages has created a video to show the predicted effects of global warming on Chichester.

With just a two degree Celsius change in temperature, more than 50,000 houses on Chichester’s coast would be under water, says the campaigning and action group.

Save Our Harbour Villages was set up recently to seek a reduction in the number of new houses built in small Chichester Harbour villages, down to the levels needed to maintain and grow successful local communities.

Andrew Kerry-Bedell, one of the organisers, said: “Chichester has suffered major river floods many times. It’s also seen rain like that experienced recently in historic Shrewsbury, which had the equivalent of two months’ worth of June rain in just two days.

“But the biggest threat to Chichester is not from rainwater, it’s from the sea. The whole coastal plain from Emsworth through coastal villages and on to the Manhood Peninsula is exposed, and most at risk.

“Today, sea level is over six inches, 15cm, higher on average than it was in 1900. That’s a pretty big change and, since 1993, sea levels have been rising almost twice as fast each year. That’s nearly two inches in just the last 25 years, with few denying the cause as being global climate change.

“When sea levels rise rapidly, even a small increase can have devastating effects on coastal habitats, as well as farther inland. Unlike in other parts of the south, the coastal stretches around Chichester Harbour and the Solent are far from permanent.

“Our deep salt-water channels are bounded by soft mud banks, delicate sand dunes and shingle, all which are at risk from erosion, flooding and climate change. The effects of sea level rise causes destructive erosion, wetland flooding, aquifer and agricultural soil contamination with salt, as well as lost habitat for fish, birds, reptiles, mammals and plants.”

In May, MPs approved a motion in the House of Commons to declare an environment and climate emergency and Chichester City Council followed suit by declaring a climate emergency on June 20, backing a motion proposed by Green councillor Sarah Sharp.

Save Our Harbour Villages would like to see Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council do the same, though the latter has this week it has no plans to do so.

Mr Kerry-Bedell said: “Given what is inevitably going to happen, and the fact that our low-lying coastal plain is too complex to build sea defences for, surely it seems madness to want to build another 11,000 new houses on it?

“Don’t Chichester residents and their children deserve where their new houses get built to survive centuries, rather than be at risk from sea flooding within decades?”

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