In Hemsby, Britain, twenty meters of shoreline are lost every year

Five homes were lost there back in March. Simon Measures points to a hill where only some tall, dune grasses and trees can be seen. “Those were front gardens.” The beach is located just beyond the top of the dune and the North Sea begins.

Measures say the weather in March was not excessively windy. “But the water was high and due to the constant strong winds it did not flow properly back into the sea at low tide. The waves quickly ate away the sand.” One morning, the municipality issued five eviction notices, and the homes were too close to the edge and no longer safe. Residents were given two hours to pack their most important belongings, and then the bulldozers arrived.

Hemsby, a village on the east coast of England, is slowly disappearing into the sea. The homes that were demolished last March were located in the fourth row of sand dunes that have disappeared due to erosion over the years. Climate change is causing extreme weather to occur more often, storms are becoming more violent and coastal erosion is accelerating. “When we moved here five years ago, we were losing about a meter of coastline a year. Now it’s twenty to thirty metres,” he says. He is a member of the citizens initiative Save Hemsby Coastline and also lives in Hemsby. There is another row of houses between His house and the sea.

On the other hand, the British government is weakening its climate policy. Officially, a climate neutral society is – Net zero – The Conservative government’s target remains 2050. However, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has recently announced all sorts of things Delay in measures To provide financial assistance to British families. The ban on petrol and diesel cars will only come into force from 2035 rather than 2030, households will have longer to replace their heating with gas, and homeowners and landlords will not be required to insulate their homes. Above all, the government gave last week The largest permit in years for new oil exploration in the North Sea.

Distance from work

These kinds of declining movements are symptoms of a political party looking out for voters, believes Kevin Jordan, a neighbor of Simon Gauges. His kitchen window used to look out onto the high sand dunes, but now he has a clear view of the sea and sea. Wind farm A few kilometers from the coast. Jordan: “These announcements come in the same populist context as Britain’s exit from the European Union and the desire for independence from the European Union.” There will be a national election in the UK sometime next year, and according to Jordan, that is the only reason the Conservative Party is now offering these relaxations.

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Prime Minister Sunak is already trying to distance himself from the largest opposition party, Labour, on the climate file. Conservatives and Labor broadly agreed on climate targets and the UK was ahead of other Western countries on solar and wind power. In the United Kingdom, in contrast to the United States, for example, there is also a strong public consensus about the facts surrounding climate change. “Everyone believes that something must be done and supports ‘in principle’ the measures to do it. Until it turns out that they are hitting their own wallets,” says Jordan.

In front of his house, a one-story house like most houses here, part of the road was cut off in March. He closed him off from the outside world. Jordan has a benign tumor on his foot, so he has trouble walking. The road has now been diverted and there is a new gravel path, with warning signs everywhere: “Cliffs collapsing, please do not enter!” He’s worried about next winter. “When I bought my house fourteen years ago, I asked if I could live here for at least another hundred years. But climate change wasn’t as big an issue as it is now.

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An invisible member of the House of Commons

For many Hemsby residents, the Conservative Party has been done away with for now. There is a Tory MP for their constituency in the House of Commons, Brandon Lewis, but he “wins the award for most invisible parliamentarian”, says Simon Measures. Although Lewis made it to the Conservative Party: since his election in 2010, he has served as party leader, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Minister of Justice. He didn’t do much for Hemsby. Both Measures and Jordan expect Labor to win the next election here.

Governors also govern locally, but municipal residents are also stuck in their attempts to arrange coastal protection. Members of Save Hemsby Coastline investigated themselves what type of blockade would work well and how many blocks would be needed to protect approximately 1.3 kilometers of coastline. They also recently obtained the building permit which was necessary according to the municipality, but now the municipality is not ready and there is said to be no budget.

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However, on this late summer day – there are still a few tourists sitting on folding chairs in the sun – excavators are marching across the beach. A neighbor takes the initiative to protect the stretch of coast in front of his house and has a wall built from large concrete Lego blocks. They dump excess sand and gravel between the blocks and rake the dunes. He doesn’t have permission, Simon thinks, but “don’t blame him.”

The problem for about three thousand Hemsby residents is that, according to national policy, there is absolutely no intention of preserving their part of the coast. The Department of the Environment has classified England’s coast into different categories and Hemsby falls into one category Managed reorganizationWhich practically means that changing the shoreline is allowed according to the policy. If Hemsby’s population had been larger, the village would have been in this category Hold the line Coastal conditions and protection are arranged by the national government. Tens of thousands of tourists who come to the beach here every year – the number of holiday homes in the village is greater than the number of permanent ones – are not counted.

Read also this analysis: Now that climate policy is taking a hit, politicians everywhere are backing down

Sunak’s gamble

Correct category or not, according to research From the University of East Anglia Rising sea levels and more extreme weather make flooding and forced displacement a real scenario for about 30 percent of the English coast. By 2050, between 120,000 and 160,000 homes will be at risk. More precise estimates are difficult, the researchers wrote, because “politics and funding can have a significant impact” on the problems.

Politics is one thing – staying in power comes first for Conservatives. Important reason For Sunak’s pragmatism It is the unexpected election victory for the Conservative candidate in Uxbridge, west London. This candidate won because he opposed the motor vehicle ecozones that Labor Mayor Sadiq Khan expanded in the capital.

So far, Sunak’s gamble to demonstrate his willingness to take British wallets into account has not been successful. According to the opinion poll based on the instructions observer It has been going well for the Conservatives and the party was catching up with Labor in the week the news broke. According to this survey, the gap has narrowed to 10 percent.

Meanwhile, many companies and think tanks have responded very critically. Economists warned that it would be better for the British economy to accelerate the greening process rather than slow it. in Open letter More than a hundred economists concluded that Sunak’s U-turn is “exactly an example of the short-term approach that has led the UK to its current economic plight”. Ultimately, the costs of such a delay are higher than the costs of taking action now, they wrote.

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In Hemsby, one of Kevin Jordan’s neighbors has put his house up for sale. For £160,000 (about €185,000) you can get a two-bedroom bungalow with sea views. “Large sand dunes form a natural barrier between the beach and the village beyond.” He writes Real estate agent. Kevin Jordan grumbles that of course he’ll never sell it – and that there’s no way the house can be insured. He himself did not dare to think how long he could live here. “If the weather is bad, I lie awake at night. I check the weather forecast on my phone and listen to the wind.

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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