England's environment chief has warned “a lot of people will die” unless action is taken to tackle the “climate emergency”.
As the Environment Agency battles flooding in Lincolnshire and Gloucestershire, Sir James Bevan said entire communities may need to be moved.
The CEO of the EA said: “I say climate emergency because it is.
“We need to wake up to the growing danger that climate change poses in relation to flooding and coastal erosion. Our seas are progressively rising and our rivers are increasingly raging.
“Parts of this country risk being retaken by the sea, from which there is no coming back.”
Sir James added: “In some places, that will mean moving people and communities to different places – permanently – out of harm’s way.
“It will need to happen, because if it doesn’t, one day the sea will come over the wall and a lot of people will die.”
He said £1billion a year is needed to help make the country more resilient to climate change. Sea level rise projections for this century range from 25cm to as much as 2.5 metres.
Sir James spoke as the UK braced itself for further storms on Wednesday.
Forecasters have warned of “high impact” thunderstorms, with lightning, hail and torrential downpours.
Emergency services are on high alert as the already battered and flooded market town of Wainfleet, in Lincs, is expected to feel the full force of the storm.
Nearly 600 homes have been evacuated and residents have been told to stay away at least until Friday, when the storm has passed.
The Met Office said there is “great concern” for the area, which could have a month’s rainfall in a few hours tomorrow.
Grahame Madge, of The Met Office, said: “We have a yellow weather warning for thunderstorms covering from The Humber down to Birmingham and East Midlands to Dorset, plus the southern and eastern parts of England.”
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