A Welsh village is to sue the government after a climate change report suggested their community would soon be washed away by rising sea levels.
The document says Fairbourne will soon be lost to the sea, and recommends that it is “decommissioned”.
However, I was not sure about some of the figures in the Telegraph report, so I checked for myself.
West of Wales Shoreline Management Plan 2(SMP2) is available in sections. Fairbourne is covered in file 4d3 – Section 4 Coastal Area D PDZ11.pdf under folder West of W…\Eng…\Coastal Area D
On page 16 is the following graphic.
Fairbourne is the grey area to the bottom left of the image. In 50 years about a third of the village will be submerged at high tide and in 100 years all of the village. This is without changes to flood defences. Even worse is this comment.
Over the 100 years with 2m SLR the area would be typically 1.5m below normal tidal levels.
Where would they have got this 1-2m of sea level rise from? In the Gwynedd council Cabinet Report 22/01/13 Topic : Shoreline Management Plan 2 it states
The WoWSMP2 was undertaken in defined stages as outlined in the Defra guidance published in March 2006.
And on sea level rise it states
There is a degree of uncertainty at present regarding the rate of sea level rise. There is an upper and lower estimate which produces a range of possibilities between 1m and 2m in the next 100 years. It will take another 10 to 20 years of data to determine where we are on the graph and what the projection for the future is.
Does the Defra guidance bear any resemblance to the expert opinion? In the UNIPCC AR5 Working Group 1 Summary for Policymakers page 21 is Table SPM.2
At the foot of the table is the RCP8.5 business as usual scenario for sea level rise.
The flood risk images produced in 2011 assume 0.36m of sea level rise in 50 years or about 2061. This is at the very top end of the RCP8.5 scenario estimates for 2046-2065. It is above the sea level rise projections with mitigation policies. Similarly a rise of 1m in 100 years is equivalent to the top end of the RCP8.5 scenario estimates for 2081-2100 of 0.82m. With any mitigation scenario the sea level rise is below that.
This means that the West of Wales Shoreline Management Plan 2 assumes that the Climate Change Act 2008 (which has increased electricity bills by at least 30% since it was passed, and blighted many rural areas with wind turbines) will have no impact at all. For added effect it takes the most extreme estimate of sea level rise and doubles it.
It gets worse. The action group Fairbourne Facing Change has a website
The Fairbourne Facing Change Community Action Group (FFC) was established in direct response to the alarming way the West of Wales Shoreline Management Plan 2(SMP2) was publicised on national and local television. The BBC programme ‘Week in Week Out’ broadcast on Tuesday, 11th February 2014, did not present an accurate and balanced reporting of the situation. This, then followed with further inaccurate coverage culminating in unnecessary concern, anxiety, and panic for the community.
The BBC has long been the centre of an extremist view on climate change. The lack of balance has caused real distress and helped exacerbate the situation. Yet in the 2014 report they did not mention this alarmism when reporting that
Fairbourne is expected to enter into “managed retreat” in 2025 when the council will stop maintaining defences due to rising sea levels.
More than 400 homes are expected to be abandoned in the village by 2055 as part of the council’s shoreline management plan (SMP) policy.
With sea level rise of about 3mm a year, and with forecast acceleration, the council is alleged to find it no longer worthwhile to maintain the sea defences when sea levels of have risen by one or two inches, and will have completely abandoned the village based on a sea level rise of less than 14 inches.