This story of Michael Claytonish econoia has been bubbling over at the Eastern Daily Press since they published leaked proposals put forward by Natural England to allow the sea to breach coastal defences along the nine mile stretch between Eccles and Winterton on the Norfolk coast. An entirely reasonable panic has spread throughout the letters pages of regional dailies. In a region this close to sea level, coastal erosion (or “realignment”, thanks Natural England!) is always hot topic.
Back in 2002, the University of East Anglia’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change research seemed optimistic. They produced virtual reality simulations of Norfolk’s coastlines, overlaying the projected results of climate change Norfolk countryside. The thought was that if residents and councils could see the results of climate change for themselves – albeit grafted onto some hokey, computer-modelled Norfolk vistas – they might be more willing to act. Ah yes, that sepia-toned period of recent history when this kind of thing seemed like slightly mediocre vamping for some far flung FuturePanic.
Still no closer to a solution, then, but now with some big emoting from subeditors – Neptune cometh and we shalt surrender to the briney blue. Nonetheless, this story has all the ingredients of a very modern ecodrama: class (commentary oscillates between cynicism and melodrama, depending on whether the North Norfolk chattering classes or Olde Anglian peasantry are providing human interest), the housing market, paranoia and faceless quangoish conspiracy.
Sentimental postscript: similar stuff at the unlikely surf bunny mecca and Hodgson family holiday destination (1987-1992), Cayton Bay.