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Partners working together in response to climate challenge

A press release from the University of Lincoln

The changing climate is likely to increase sea levels by over one metre across the Lincolnshire coast in the coming 100 years; to ensure that it remains a thriving community a new collaborative project is looking at ways it can adapt and be made more resilient in the face of this challenge.

Representatives from the University of Lincoln, UK, East Lindsey District Council, the Environment Agency, and Lincolnshire County Council are working together on the Adaptive and Resilient Coastal and Communities (ARCC) project to better understand the challenges that lie ahead for the Lincolnshire coast, as well as any opportunities the situation may present.

Many of the current engineered sea defences along the Lincolnshire Coast were originally constructed following the devastating flood of 1953 to withstand the full force of the tides and waves of the North Sea with a low-level natural beach at the base of the defences. As a result, these defences have needed to be complemented by a beach nourishment programme, to better protect the flood defences and the communities located behind them.

However, with sea defences being used in over half of the tides per year and a third of the land area of the East Lindsey district sitting within the coastal floodplain, flood risk now needs to be at the heart of decision making.

The ARCC project team are looking to ensure that is the case, creating an Adaptation Strategy which will be used to steer future policies, ensuring that communities and businesses along the coast can adapt to be safer and more resilient to the challenges of the changing climate.

The team will create the Strategy, using innovative modelling and visualisation, to map out the likely impacts of the changing climate, consider how local ambition for growth and prosperity on the coast can be delivered to accommodate these impacts, and ultimately look to secure the funding to deliver the necessary infrastructure to enable this.

Ultimately the project will create an evidence base that will shape flood resilience for the next 50 years, and it is hoped that the ARCC team's work will be able to benefit communities on the coast further afield too.

Mark Macklin, Distinguished Professor of River Systems and Global Change and the University's co-chair of the ARCC project, said: "This is a really forward-looking project, and I'm very pleased to be working with our partners on it.

"By working together and pooling our collective knowledge and expertise we can take a sensible, pragmatic approach to the issues the Lincolnshire coast faces, and help make sure that it remains a thriving environment and that the communities located there can adapt to the forthcoming challenges.

"The challenges facing the Lincolnshire coast are not wholly unique to the area either, so there is potential for the work that we undertake on the project to have benefit for coastal communities across the wider UK and even on a global scale."

Cllr Craig Leyland, Leader of East Lindsey District Council, said: "This is an important, innovative project which could help strengthen the resilience of our coastal communities against climate change as well as help shape future policies. The climate challenge facing our Lincolnshire coast is a serious issue, impacting not only our sea defences but residents, businesses, and the coastal economy.

"Working with our partners and sharing our expertise will help make our coastal communities become more resilient to the challenges they face whilst protecting our beautiful coastline and its unique offer for generations to come."

Environment Agency Area Director, Norman Robinson, said: "The climate emergency is one of the biggest threats we face on the Lincolnshire Coast. I am incredibly pleased to be working with partners on such an ambitious and progressive project that will help inform decision making around tidal flood risk.

"Working in partnership and broadening our knowledge base with a wider range of expertise, could really help shape the way we can all take collective action against the threat of tidal flooding whilst maintaining the broader ambitions for economic growth and regeneration."  

Cllr Colin Davie, executive member for environment at Lincolnshire County Council, welcomed the new partnership. He said: "Many residents along the coast, and right across the county, will know all-too-well the devastating impacts flooding can have. That's why it's important that we understand what the future could hold for coastal flooding in our county, and help shape flood resilience projects to better prepare and protect coastal towns and villages, and support the east coast's vital visitor economy.

"There is no single quick fix that will stop all future flooding events, and no single authority that can take ownership in preventing flooding. This project instead brings all the relevant partners together to share their expertise and research, and work together for the benefit of the communities we live in and represent."

The ARCC project is now aiming to complete an initial options assessment by mid-2023, following this a period of engagement will be undertaken ahead of the formal adoption of the final Adaption Strategy by all partner organisations.