For the southeast of the UK the trend in climate is towards hotter drier summers and warmer wetter winters, with increased storminess. In the marine environment the impacts include relative sea level rise, increased seawater temperatures, ocean acidification and changes in ocean circulation. The combination of sea level rise and the likelihood of flooding and greater coastal erosion is a real threat to both people and the existing habitats and species around the Solent. There may also be a significant effect on the coast due to storminess and associated wave and surge actions, with rivers also seeking to discharge higher flows into the sea. This may in turn, affect flooding on the low coast and in river estuaries, as well as erosion of coastal and intertidal features such as shingle banks and mudflats.
Such physical changes to the coast will also significantly impact on human activity. Where we live, take part in recreation and work will all be influenced by changes in our natural environment. There are many difficult choices to be made in the future as we learn to live with different weather patterns and more severe weather events. In marine planning and decision making consideration will need to be given to how the marine environment can adapt to the impacts of climate change. Marine plan authorities need to assess the likely and potential impacts from climate change and their implications for the location or timing of development and activities over the plan period and beyond.
In April 2009 the European Commission presented a policy paper known as a White Paper which presents the framework for adaptation measures and policies to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. It is currently working on an climate change adapation strategy.
The Climate Change Act, 2008 makes the UK the first country in the world to have a legally binding long-term framework to cut carbon emissions. It also creates a framework for building the UK's ability to adapt to climate change. The Coastal Change Pathfinder project involved 15 authorities exploring new ways of adapting to coastal change. The pathfinders received nearly £11 million from the coastal change fund announced in June 2009. Hampshire County Council received £254,000 to explore planning for and managing adaptation to coastal change for a 10 kilometre stretch of New Forest Coastline and Lepe Country Park. CCATCH was the established project for the Solent.
In its State of the Environment Report for the Southeast, the Environment Agency's climate change scenarios show an increase in seasonality – hotter, drier summers and wetter winters. Sea levels will rise by one metre in the next 100 years. In Hampshire there are currently 28,154 properties that would be at risk of flooding, should defences fail. To combat this, where appropriate, the Agency will invest in new methods of protection. Across the southeast it has defended an additional 14,100 properties in the last three years. It encourages people to be aware of the risks by signing up to its Floodline warning service and by offering those at risk advice on how to prepare for flooding. Currently, just 63% of properties at risk in the South East are registered to receive a warning.
The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) provides a co-ordinating framework within the UK for the transfer of high-quality marine climate change impacts evidence and advice to policy advisors and decision-makers. The Partnership acts as the primary focus for the supply of evidence and advice to partners to enable them to individually and collectively plan for the challenges and opportunities presented by the impacts of climate change in the marine environment. The MCCIP produces annual report cards that detail changes to the UK marine climate.
The Environment Agency (EA) have successfully won an EU Interreg IVa 2 seas bid ‘Coastal Communities 2150 and Beyond’ (CC2150). Hampshire County Council and five other partners working closely with the EA, the lead organisation, developed the project. It began in February 2011 and will run until December 2013.
Hampshire County Council’s element of the CC2150 bid is ‘CCATCH – the Solent’ which builds on the work currently being carried out through the ’CCATCH – the Solent’ trial project from Beaulieu to Calshot (Defra funded pathfinder project) by widening it to the whole of the Solent region. The County Council, Solent Forum and other local partners will be providing staff time over the three years to steer an engagement campaign on the need for communities to adapt to coastal change. Solent Forum staff will be employed to undertake a number of tasks.