A geography professor has said that the UK is spending a “huge amount of money” to protect railways and homes from rising sea levels and “it is not sustainable”.
As many as 1.5 million properties will be at “significant risk” of coastal flooding by the 2080s as sea levels rise, the Committee on Climate Change warned.
Dr Esteves, Associate Professor of Physical Geography at Bournemouth University told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham: “Some of those infrastructures are key to the country and they are only currently working because of the huge amount of money being put in to protect them.
“But as time goes on, you have higher sea levels and more intense storms.
“You have to be expected to spend more money, more frequently to protect those assets.”
'High risk for erosion'
One example is the railway line running through Dawlish in the south west, which has been named as one of the high-risk areas.
Dr Esteves said: “That bit of railway is really interesting because looking at it historically, the first time it was broken was less than ten years after it was built.
“So we know that area is at high risk for erosion.
“Time after time money has been spent to rebuild and protect it.”
She added: “Why are we insisting to protect some areas that we know are going to be very difficult to protect?”
'Someone has to make the tough decision'
Dr Esteves stressed that sea erosion was part of a “natural cycle” and that the government has to make tough decisions to protect infrastructure.
She said: “It is really difficult for the government when a railway is broken to say that they are going to relocate it.
“In that moment of crisis it is not the correct time to make that decision but we have to think about alternatives.
“We know things are not sustainable in the long term, how they are and where they are.”
“Someone has to make the tough decision.”
Baroness Brown, chairwoman of the CCC's adaptation committee, said: "This is a wake-up call to the fact we can't protect the whole English coast to today's standards.
"Quite understandably most people living on the coast will assume that's exactly what will happen, that it will remain protected.
"We want to stimulate some honest conversation with coastal communities and affected places about the difficult choices which lie ahead."