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Seas and Oceans: Bournemouth

Volume 456: debated on Friday 2 February 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the change in average sea levels in the Bournemouth area has been over the last 25 years; and what change is forecasted over the next 25 years. (117931)

It is difficult to give a precise estimate of past sea level rise at specific locations because of the relative short length of most tide gauge records and the significant inter-annual variation, including a 19 year lunar cycle. However, it is generally accepted that sea levels along the south coast have been rising by between 1 and 2 mm per year over recent decades.

Defra published revised guidance for operating authorities on future rates of sea level rise to be taken into account in flood and coastal erosion risk management decisions in November 2006. This recommended that, including the effects of vertical land movement in the south west, an allowance of 3.5 mm rise per year should be made from the baseline of nominal 1990 levels to 2025 (that is, that levels in 2025 could be 122.5 mm higher than in 1990).

From 2025 to 2050, it is recommended that an 8.0 mm rise per year is assumed, to give a total rise of 178.5 mm by 2032, relative to 1990 levels. These are not predictions but are intended to be reasonably precautionary working allowances. The assumptions and qualifications on which these recommendations are based are included in the guidance which is published on the Defra website.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans there are to improve sea defences at Hengistbury Head in Bournemouth. (117935)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 22 November 2006, Official Report, column 135W.