As a coastal county, the possibility of increased coastal flooding due to sea level rise or increased storm intensity and frequency is a real threat. The Dorset coast is already heavily protected where there is a large population such as in Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Weymouth. These areas have flood coastal defences in place designed to deal with at least a 1 in 50 year event. Smaller communities such as Swanage are less well protected.
The current policy of choice in Dorset for undeveloped areas of coastline is to allow the shoreline to retreat in a controlled way or to let the natural processes continue without any interference from humans. But where natural and built environment areas are seen to be important the policy tends to lean more towards holding the line of defence. This is achieved by a mixture of hard and soft engineering coastal defences such as sea walls and groynes and beach replenishment. With sea level predicted to rise by 210mm by 2050 these coastal defences will have to be improved.
Coastal areas are important to our economy. Tourism, shipping and fishing all rely on the coast. As the climate warms more people will find it too hot to visit Mediterranean resorts and instead visit the south coast of the UK. This will put extra pressure on Dorset’s coastal areas, speeding up erosion, reducing beach areas and increasing damage on coastal historic sites. Businesses will have to make sure that their activities only have a sustainable impact on the area. For fishing, the increase in storms is the main issue for which it is hard to find a solution. Longer breeding seasons may benefit local fishermen. For the ports along the Dorset Coast the main issue is due to sea level rise causing operational problems with docking and also an increase in storm surges and storminess delaying ships and ferries and causing more accidents.
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