Welsh village to sue government over ‘alarmist’ rising sea level claim
By Paul Homewood
We often moan about things climate change related, but sometimes my blood really boils.
From the Telegraph:
House prices in Fairbourne have plummeted
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".
Angry villagers say predictions of that the sea level will rise by a metre a year are alarmist, and have hit house prices and investment in the village.
At a local meeting they voted overwhelmingly in favour of pursuing legal action over the controversial Shoreline Management Plan 2 (SMP2), saying it had "blighted" their community.
The plan for Fairbourne, in Gwynedd, surrounded by the Snowdonia National Park, was commissioned by Pembrokeshire and Gwynedd local authorities and signed off by the Welsh Government. It is not yet clear who would foot the bill should the legal campaign be successful.
Businesses are struggling for long-term investment
Currently, Fairbourne is included in the West of Wales (SMP2) which recommends that, while the village will be protected against flooding over the next few years, in the longer term, as sea levels rise, it will undergo "managed realignment" and Fairbourne will eventually be "decommissioned".
As a result, house prices in Fairbourne have plummeted and businesses have struggled for long-term investment.
The SMP2 plan states that Fairbourne will see sea levels rise by one metre in the next century, but Fairbourne Facing Change (FFC), a community action group looking to sustain the coastal village for as long as possible, has always dismissed this data as misleading.
The chairman of FFC, Pete Cole, said: "There are four Shoreline Management Plans for Wales, two of which, including the one covering Fairbourne, used the more aggressive sea level rise predictions of one metre in 100 years.
"The other two used more optimistic forecasts. If these had been used in Fairbourne the timeline would have been extended by many years.
The SMP2 plan states that Fairbourne will see sea levels rise by one metre in the next century
"It’s ridiculous that had Fairbourne been separated by two different SMPs, one side of the village would be a metre under water 30 to 40 years before the other half – it’s nonsensical.
"The 2016 sea level rise forecast produced by the esteemed National Tidal and Sea Level Facility concluded that sea levels could be expected to rise 50cm rather than one metre in the next 100 years and with only a modest 20 to 30cm rise in the next 50 years.
"FFC has never accepted the predictions used for our SMP2. Latest scientific evidence proves that we were right."
Seeking ‘legal redress’, FFC and Fairbourne are hoping to claim back the original value of all the properties and businesses in Fairbourne following the "enormously damaging" claims put forward by the SMP.
"We have been hurt by the actions of the agencies who adopted these plans without thinking of the ramifications," added Mr Cole.
"Serious questions should be asked about the ‘due diligence’ of these bodies which are overseeing a system which is not consistent across the whole of the country.
"A barrister from Gray’s Inn Square Chambers in London, specialising in the fields of planning and local government law, has reviewed our situation and concludes that there could be a potential claim.
"We could be looking at a substantial return, tens of millions, but perhaps even £100 million.
"The barrister has offered to undertake the legal work on a fixed-fee basis of around £20,000.
"Public meetings held on Friday, 5 February, agreed overwhelmingly to personally commit to contribute to the funding covering legal costs and that FFC would ask the barrister to proceed with the initial review and application of those facts to the law.
"We have already raised a four-figure sum towards the legal fees, almost a 10th of the amount required."
Forget about the “a meter a year” headline! Obviously there has been a breakdown in communication (or more likely commonsense) here. The claim is, of course, a meter per century.
But it will come as no great surprise to any of us that there is not the slightest evidence that this will happen.
Fairbourne is on the West Wales coast, on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park.
Across the estuary, there is a tidal gauge at Barmouth. It only started in 1991, and there have been some missing months in between. However, it is immediately apparent that there has been little change in sea level in the last decade.
Tide Gauge at Barmouth
We find a similar trend at Fishguard, just down the coast.
Tide Gauge at Fishguard
There is too much missing data to calculate a meaningful trend, but just around the coast in North Wales, we get a trend of 1.78mm/year at Llandudno, since the start of data in 1994.
The nearest tidal gauge with long term and complete data is Newlyn in Cornwall. Newlyn is a couple of hundred miles away, so there will be some small differences, not least because the land is sinking there at a rate of about 0.5mm/year, whereas the area around Fishbourne is pretty much stable.
Nevertheless, any major changes in the rate of sea level rise would be equally as apparent there. NOAA tell us that sea levels at Newlyn have been rising at the rate of 1.76mm/year since 1915.
Furthermore, there has been no acceleration in the trend. Indeed, it was rising faster before 1970.
As has been noted on many occasions, forecasts of large scale sea level rise this century are little more than fantasy, and certainly have no basis in fact. Grant addicted scientists, sat in their ivory towers, may think they are saving the world, when they play around with their computer models.
But the reality is that they are doing very real damage to people living in places like Fairbourne.