New Coastal Transition Accelerator Programme to help communities trial new approaches for tackling escalating flood risks and relocating the most at-risk communities

The government has today announced the launch of a new £36m programme to help coastal communities respond to escalating climate-related flood and erosion risks.

Coastal Transition Accelerator Programme forms part of the government’s wider £200m flood and coast innovation programme and will initially focus on areas in the East Riding of Yorkshire and North Norfolk.

Local authorities are to receive funding to help communities on areas of the coast that cannot sustainably be defended from coastal erosion, supporting both short term measures to slow erosion and long-term efforts to transition communities away from high risk land.

Specifically, the funding will support work to improve and replace damaged community infrastructure with removable, modular, or other innovative buildings, repurpose land in coastal erosion zones for different uses such as temporary car parks, and restoring and creating habitats to include green buffer zones.

It will also support initiatives to work with the finance and property sectors to explore innovative finance or funding mechanisms to help move communities from the highest risk areas, for instance schemes to incentivise the relocation of at-risk infrastructure for businesses and homeowners.

“As climate change brings more extreme weather, we must redouble our efforts to build a more resilient nation,” said Floods Minister Rebecca Pow. “We have ramped up flood and coastal erosion policies, and we will always defend our coastline where it is sustainable and sensible to do so. Where it isn’t we will support communities to adapt.

“What we are announcing today will support innovative solutions to help those areas most vulnerable to coastal erosion to prepare and adapt.” 

The programme will be run by the Environment Agency and will run until March 2027. A full evaluation of the programme will then help to inform future national policies and support wider coastal resilience activity.

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said it was vital that policymakers plan for increasing sea levels.

“Today, 9,000 kilometres of open English coast is at risk from sea flooding, erosion and landslips, and by 2100 once-a-century sea level events are set to become annual events,” she said. “As a minimum, we need to plan for at least a metre rise of sea level rise by the end of the century. In some places the pace and scale of change may be so significant that, over a period of time, coastal authorities will need to help local communities transition away from the current shoreline over time. This programme is about providing that local support while increasing the whole country’s expertise and resilience in the face of climate and coastal change.”

The news came on the same day that Defra announced that England’s largest ever seagrass planting programme has hit a new milestone, having planted seagrass across a total of 3.5 hectares of seabed.

The £2.5m ‘Save Our Seabed’ project, which is led by Natural England, has now planted around 70,000 seed bags, the government said, as part of efforts to expand a natural carbon sink that has halved in size since the 1930s.

In addition to storing carbon, sea grasses can also help reduce coastal erosion risk and provide habitats for marine animals.

“Seagrasses are a precious part of our marine ecosystem, providing a habitat for a wide variety of species from juvenile fish to our seahorse populations,” said Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England. “They are an essential mechanism for carbon capture and a healthy marine environment.

“Seagrasses are vital but they are also very delicate. With their existence threatened by disease, pollution, and human activity, we must all work together to support the recovery of seagrasses – and harness their power to combat climate change and restore our natural environment.”

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