LYME Regis Town Council has been warned it needs to start making preparations now to protect its most lucrative asset – the Monmouth Beach area – from rising sea levels in the future.
The town council’s Environment Committee were this week given a presentation on the effects climate change and rising sea levels could have on the Monmouth Beach area by Dave Picksley, senior coastal advisor for the Environment Agency.
Although he said any major effects were not likely to be seen for decades, Mr Picksley told councillors that they should be thinking about the issues now and saving funds to help protect Lyme Regis in the future.
Over the next 80 years, Mr Picksley said the Environment Agency was expecting sea levels to rise by at least one metre, and at the turn of the century they would be rising by 10mm a year.
This meant that sea defences may be a consideration for Monmouth Beach within 20 to 50 years, with the far west end of the chalet park the most vulnerable area.
Monmouth Beach is a lucrative area for the town council, with funds from car parking, chalets, beach huts and leases for buildings such as the bowls club and power boat club making up the majority of the authority’s income.
Mr Picksley told councillors they should now be taking into consideration the length of long-term leases, and in the future may have to relocate beach huts or make the car park smaller.
“The beach will look a lot different in 100 years,” he said.
Mr Picksley also warned that there was an increased chance of the sea overtopping the Cobb from Monmouth Beach during storms.
The Mayor of Lyme Regis, Cllr Brian Larcombe MBE, questioned whether there was any chance of losing the Cobb altogether in the long-term future, saying it would be “catastrophic” for the town.
Mr Picksley agreed, saying if the Cobb were to be engulfed by the sea it would breach all the coastal protection works carried out in Lyme Regis over the past 30 years.
The final phase of those works – Phase V – is aimed at protecting the Cobb and is currently being worked on at Dorset Council.