Selsey set for ground breaking Sea Defence Conference

Selsey sea wall

Selsey sea wall

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Selsey Town Council are set to host a major sea defence conference in the town next week.

The event, to be held on Tuesday, April 26, aims to galvanise communities and organisations across the south east into preparing and planning against the threat of rising sea levels and coastal flooding.

The conference will be held at Selsey Town Hall from 10am to 4pm.

Selsey is the focus of global study into rising sea flooding caused by climate change, and University of East Carolina delegates will be attending to make a film about issues Selsey and surrounding areas may face.

National flooding organisations will also attend, alongside parish, town, district and county councils stretching from Havant to Shoreham-By-Sea.

Topics to be discussed include: protective measures; collaboration between neighbouring coastal settlements; changes to planning policy; and how to secure funding for coastal defences.

Organiser Glenda Baum said: “We are trying to get people to think long term that we have to do something about sea levels rising and storm damage.

“We need to try and prevent these problems where we can and find imaginative ways of funding defences.

“The people in power are mostly of an older age but we owe it to our grandchildren to start planning now.”

She suggested planning processes should change to stop building on flood plains, unless properties and associated drainage systems were specifically designed for floods.

“I also believe it is good practice to plant trees,” she added.

“I would love to see that made much stronger in planning policy.

“We want some blue sky thinking at this conference to work out how things can be changed to protect us in the future.”

Kings College London and the University of South Florida chose Selsey for a worldwide research project, alongside locations in the United States and Brazil.

Glenda said: “The results of the study showed that unless further action is taken, a really exceptional storm might even now cause considerable damage to our town.

“The likelihood of such storms and the extent of the damage they would cause will increase every year, with changing weather patterns and increasing sea water levels.

“We are not the only town in danger, potentially most coastal settlements around the country will be and everyone will all be competing for limited funds.”

Speakers from Kings College will be at the conference to talk about their findings.

West Sussex County Council’s leader, Louise Goldsmith, said: “This conference is a shining example of communities coming together to tackle a major flooding problem, which is why we are so supportive.

“Similar to our Operation Watershed initiative, it fits with our philosophy of helping people help themselves.

“This is the first of its kind, and we are keen to attend to see what we can do to help.”

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