Climate change and coastal erosion

UK storm surge at Freshwater Bay, Isle Of Wight, Hampshire
UK storm surge at Freshwater Bay, Isle Of Wight

Climate change and the resulting rise in sea level is causing England’s coast to erode faster than before. 2022 was the warmest in England since records began 364 years ago. As the world warms, storms intensify, ice melts faster and the oceans expand, causing sea levels to rise. This exacerbates coastal erosion because sea level rise and stronger storms create larger waves at higher elevations that batter the coast. England’s crumbling cliffs mean up to 80,000 homes are at risk of falling into the sea by the end of the century. There is no insurance or compensation scheme available for those impacted and home owners may have to pay for the demolition of their home.

One Home has created an online map to highlight the 21 communities most at risk from coastal erosion by 2100, including the average property price for those areas. The interactive tool also highlights the shoreline management policy designations and plans for sea defences for most of the English coast.

Coastal erosion map of England highlighting 21 coastal communities most at risk
Summary Map of English communities most under threat from coastal erosion by 2100. See our interactive map for a closer look at the risks in each location, which must be viewed in conjunction with our Map Terms of Use and Data warnings

Sea level rise and increased storms means some shorelines, such as in East Riding and Norfolk, are losing up to four metres of land every year. As well as erosion, low-lying communities are also vulnerable to flooding from the sea with many homes facing regular flooding because of sea level rise and tidal surges. Please note, if your coastline is not featured in the map it does not mean it is safe from coastal erosion.

Lucy Ansbro, from Thorpeness, Suffolk

The impacts of climate change, which are predominantly caused by burning fossil fuels, are accelerating as carbon pollution continues to accumulate in the atmosphere.Therefore preparing coastal communities for inevitable changes is essential to limit the harm caused to people, wildlife and the economy. Too many people, especially those who live in seaside properties, are unaware of the dangers they will soon face. So whilst many estate agents are happy to sell the ‘seaside’ dream, in reality it can turn out to be a nightmare.

Read our article to find out more about where CO2 pollution comes from.

What are Shoreline Management Plans?

The government created the first Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) in 2000, and the second-generation SMPs (SMP2) were developed between 2006 and 2012. Every section of the English coast has been designated a management status of either hold the line (HTL), managed realignment (MR), or no active intervention (NAI). 

One Home’s article on coastal risks gives an overview of the SMPs and also lists the areas that have an SMP summary document. Over a third of the coast has already been designated a status of No Active Intervention. As a consequence, many coastlines will be left to erode. No sea walls or structures will be built to protect them. It is simply not possible to protect every stretch of coast from the rising sea because coastal defences are costly to build and maintain, and they sometimes have damaging effects on the natural environment or an adjoining length of coastline. This means thousands of homes are at risk of being lost to the sea by the end of the century. The exact number of homes will depend on the rate of erosion and the number of SMPs that can be funded, built and maintained.

SMPs have neither funding nor legal status

Despite the increasing risk from climate change, developers continue to get permission to build new properties near crumbling cliffs and along the coast, as SMPs are not legally binding in determining planning applications.

SMPs are not funded policies so, in reality, many coasts designated as Hold the Line or Managed Realignment may well in the future be changed to No Active Intervention if Government and partnership funding are not secured. Therefore, this map shows potentially the best case scenario for coastal communities in England.

Coastal communities at risk from erosion by 2100

Kent UK -  A white rectangular sign reading "Recent cliff erosion ahead. Please keep away from the edge."

One Home’s interactive map uses publicly available information, so people can find the SMP policy allocated for their area and to highlight the communities on the English coastline that are most at risk from coastal erosion by 2100. This map is intended for guidance and discussion purposes only. The data is estimated and cannot show the absolute location of the future coastline. Property loss estimations cannot be relied upon at the localised scale and should therefore not be used to support local policy decisions. However, the map and data are useful for guidance and national-scale discussions. 

Click here to see the map and further information which must be read in conjunction with the data sources and disclaimer available on the next page.

Support for communities at risk from coastal erosion

There are many local action groups formed by communities under threat from the sea but there isn’t a national voice for those impacted by sea level rise and the consequences of climate change.

Support for communities at risk from coastal erosion is very limited. However for further resources and initiatives, and to find out what you can do to raise awareness of this issue, see our Information guide for coastal residents page.


This information is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

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