TENDRING has been named as one of the districts facing the largest challenges in responding to sea level rise.

Nearly 200,000 homes and businesses in England are at risk of being lost by the 2050s in the face of rising seas.

New research examines how rising sea levels caused by climate change, combined with erosion of foreshores by waves, are increasing coastal flood risk.

Experts warn there is an urgent need for a national debate about the flooding threat to coastal communities, including rolling back defences and moving properties.

The study, which is published in the journal Oceans and Coastal Management, compares the rising risk of coastal flooding with existing policies for managing the coast.

England could face around 35cm (14in) of sea level rise compared to historic levels by 2050 and is nearly certain to see close to 1m (3ft) of sea level rise by the end of the century, the study said.

Rising seas combined with increased wave-driven erosion are raising the risk of coastal flooding, forcing the Government and communities to decide how to respond - mainly whether to hold the line against the sea by building and maintaining defences or realign the shoreline and move properties.

The areas with the largest challenge in responding to sea level rise, through to the 2050s and 2080s, with significant uncertainty regarding the ability to “hold the line” are likely to be Tendring, Maldon, Suffolk Coastal, North Somerset, Wyre, Swale, North Norfolk, Cornwall, Medway and Sedgemoor.

Lead author Paul Sayers, an engineering consultant who works with the University of East Anglia’s Tyndall Centre and has conducted analysis for the Climate Change Committee, said: “Significant sea level rise is now inevitable.

“We need a serious national debate about the scale of the threat.”

Responding to the study, Jim Hall, professor of climate and environmental risks at Oxford University, said: “We need to have honest conversations with coastal communities that it will simply not be possible to protect every house and business from sea level rise.

“These changes are coming sooner than we might think and we need to plan now for how we can adjust.”

Tendring Council’s leader says the authority would work with local communities and national organisations to address the issues raised by climate change.

“We declared a climate emergency in 2019 and have developed an action plan to address our own impact on the environment; crucially with a pledge to work together with our residents and businesses and bring the district together on this important issue,” said Neil Stock.

“However, we cannot tackle climate change and its impacts on our own.

“This is something which requires global action, and the issue of sea defence is one which needs input from the government and Environment Agency.

“For example, Tendring Council has invested millions of pounds in recent years on sea defence schemes at the Naze in Walton and along Holland-on-Sea to protect homes, businesses, and important ecological sites – but in each case our money has leveraged more from partners, as these complex schemes are not something we could afford to do alone.

“Looking ahead, sea level rise is still something we take seriously, often as a matter of policy, such as with flood risk being a material planning consideration.

“A good example of our forward-thinking on this is our current draft Place Plan for Jaywick Sands which considers flood defences not only in terms of protection of life and property, but also quality of life – recognising living behind a towering sea wall would not be pleasant, and that therefore other solutions must be considered.”

“But it must be remembered that sea level rise is but one result of climate change; we must be equally prepared for things such as drought and clean energy challenges.”