Coastal flooding and adaptation to climate change inquiry launched

19 March 2019

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee launches an inquiry into coastal flooding and adaptation to climate change.

Sea levels are rising due to melting ice sheets and glaciers, and the physical expansion of the water as it warms. Although it has not yet been directly attributed, it is broadly thought this is due to climate change and the warming atmosphere.

Sea levels are expected to continue to rise in the coming decades and centuries. Coastal erosion and an increasing incidence of coastal flooding are predicted to represent an increasing risk to coastal communities, businesses and infrastructure.

The Environment Agency’s Climate Change impacts and adaptation report (2018) highlighted that it may not be cost effective to protect or adapt some of England's coastline as currently planned. Some coastal flood defences may possibly fail as sea levels rise, meaning some currently defended land may not continue to be defended from flooding in the future.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Neil Parish MP said:

“Coastal communities, businesses and the infrastructure they rely on are becoming increasingly vulnerable to flooding. Although it is yet to be proven that climate change is the cause of sea level rise and coastal flooding, it is thought to be consistent with global changes to climate and a warming atmosphere.

“As the country seeks to adapt to climate change, it is essential that effective defences and other measures are put in place to enable coastal communities to adapt.

“It is also essential we have a transparent process in place for deciding when to protect the coast and when we will have to accept managed retreat instead.”

Terms of reference

The Committee is seeking written submissions that address the following questions:

  1. What are the risks and consequences of coastal flooding?
  2. What progress has been made to implement coastal erosion and flooding adaptation measures, and how much more still needs to be done?
  3. Is the application and approvals process for coastal erosion and flooding adaptation measures working effectively? If not, how could it be improved?
  4. Is adequate funding available to counter coastal erosion and build and maintain coastal defences?
  5. Is there a transparent process, criteria and timeframe for determining when to support or withdraw from coastal erosion and flooding adaptation measures, and does the process inspire public confidence in decision-making?
  6. This year, the UK Government will publish its long-term policy statement on flooding and coastal erosion, and the Environment Agency will issue a new 50-year strategy – what should they each prioritise?

Deadline for submissions

Written evidence should be submitted through the Committee’s web portal by midnight on Tuesday 30 April. It is recommended that all submitters familiarise themselves with the Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons which outlines particulars of word count, format, document size, and content restrictions.


We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence. We aim to have diverse panels of Select Committee witnesses and ask organisations to bear this in mind when we ask them to choose a representative. We are currently monitoring the diversity of our witnesses.

Further information

Image: PA

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