Homes in Tewkesbury surrounded by land underwater (Image: SWNS)
Under the latest plans for coping with global warming, certain villages and homes will be left to the ravages of flash floods and rising sea levels because it is "not realistic" to defend them. Reports show that flooding chiefs plan to rely less on "holding the line" approaches where hard structures keep water at bay. Instead, there will be a "managed retreat" or "rollback", where the sea and rivers are allowed to reclaim homes.
In a recent report, the Environment Agency, which is responsible for flood defences, recently said that in the face of climate change it is "not realistic to try to manage more increasingly intense flooding and sea level rise with limitlessly high walls and barriers".
And a select committee report said: "It is clear that the national approach for many areas will need to move towards supporting people and communities to adapt to change."
Government advisers have said 340 miles of the coast should be moved back to adapt to rising seas and coastal erosion.
A Sunday Express investigation found some villages had been told they are being sacrificed.
In Happisburgh, North Norfolk, flood defence schemes have been scrapped in favour of "coastal rollback". So far 35 properties have been lost to erosion, with only nine of the owners receiving money to relocate.
Malcolm Kerby, who set up the Coastal Concern Action Group, said: "All we have had is the government machine doing a shoreline plan and saying, 'Sorry, guys, we are no longer going to protect you'. That is not adaptation.That is abandonment." Rising sea levels are predicted to make the village of Fairbourne on the west coast of Wales indefensible to flooding, with 850 residents likely to be forced out.
The Environment Agency is also looking at "managed retreat" in Hemsby, Norfolk, and Caterham, Surrey. After a recent fact-finding trip to Hemsby, MP Neil Parish, said: "The sea had driven in over 50ft of land in the past 18 months. The scale and speed is frightening."
Level of erosion in Hemsby shocked MP Neil Parish (Image: Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament)
Schemes where the sea is left to reclaim the land are being considered in Cornwall.
Government advisers have said people must adapt to at least one metre of sea level rise within the lifetime of today's children.
Managed retreat, or realignment, is often more cost-effective where coastal defences are unsustainable, they said.
However, there is a lack of funding for the Environment Agency and coastal management bodies to consult