Long term plans on how to deal with flood threat in River Ouse and coast

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Preparing for the flooding risk posed to Lewes by climate change is the subject of an informal public consultation.

It will look far into the future and embraces the county town, the villages of the lower Ouse Valley and the coastal developments of Seaford and Newhaven.

Coastal Communities 2150 is asking people who live and work in the area to submit their views on various conceptual scenarios on adapting to sea level rise and flood risk between now and 2150.

The Environment Agency is a partner in the Coastal Communities 2150 Project (CC2150) which helps communities get better prepared for the impacts of climate change over the next 150 years.

More than 2,000 homes and 1,300 commercial properties in the area are currently at risk of flooding. Future climate change will make these communities more difficult to protect as a result of increased flooding, erosion and rising sea levels.

With this in mind the online public engagement has been launched. It features six illustrated concepts developed by Coastal Communities 2150 for how the lower Ouse Valley could be adapted over the next 150 years to deal with the effects of climate change and sea level rise. The concepts show more than a century of change in the landscape whilst maintaining the present population and built-up area. These are:

EHard line – building hard structures to hold back high tides and flood waters

ESoft focus – using softer, natural features like salt marsh and embankments to defend areas of land against flooding

EGet wet – accepting that some areas will flood sometimes and protecting buildings and infrastructure to reduce the amount of damage

EHigher ground – moving buildings, infrastructure and other activities from the shoreline and river banks to higher ground

ERise up – lifting buildings and infrastructure out of harm’s way from flooding by putting them on stilts or embankments, or making them float

ENew growth – changing the way we farm the land to adapt to changing weather conditions

The concepts are complimented by an interactive visualisation of the lower Ouse Valley. This ‘fly-through’, the first of its kind in the UK, takes the user along the valley in either direction allowing them to raise sea level by up to five metres. The coastal and river defence are shown at their current heights. Visit http://fusiongfx.com/cc/ to see the visualisation and a film guide to using it.

Paul Costelloe, Environment Agency CC2150 Project Officer, said: “The coast around South East England is changing and we all must be prepared for the future effects of rising sea levels, increased flood risk and higher temperatures.

“This is not a formal consultation because the concepts are not schemes or proposals for the area. Instead we are inviting responses from the communities to produce an ambitious but achievable long-term Vision and Action Plan.”