LARGE swathes of Poole, Purbeck and Christchurch could fall beneath sea level by 2050, new data suggests.

Not-for-profit organisation Climate Central has published an interactive tool allowing residents to see if their streets could be at greater risk of flooding in three decades.

The map shows that areas including central Poole, Hamworthy, Christchurch town centre, Wareham and Studland may be at risk of being underwater because of predicted rises in sea levels linked to climate change.

Bournemouth Echo:

However, BCP Council says the map does not take into consideration any of the flood defence schemes currently in place.

East Dorset Friends of the Earth’s Angela Pooley told the Echo: “Obviously, this is of great concern.

“What we have to do now is ensure that BCP Council actually acts on its pledge for a climate emergency.

“It is not enough to say we are declaring a climate emergency, we need a workable plan to bring that to fruition.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Climate Change describes itself as an independent organisation of leading scientists and journalists who “research and report facts about our changing climate.”

BCP Council says the mapping and flood risk referred to is generated from overlaying sea level rise predictions with ground levels.

A council spokesman said: “It therefore doesn’t account for existing defences and shows the risk of flooding if no assets existed. Similarly, the Environment Agency flood zones depict scenarios ‘assuming no defences’.

“This type of mapping is used as the basis of strategy development and helps us, as coast protection and land drainage authorities, to plan for the future and to implement projects using our permissive powers.

Bournemouth Echo:

“The report suggests Poole town centre being at risk. However, Poole currently has defences in place.

“Both the Environment Agency and Poole Harbour Commissioners have implemented schemes along their frontages over the last few years. “ BCP Council was also recently successful in bidding for a £310,000 local levy to complete an outline business case to enable improved defences from Poole Bridge to Hunger Hill.

The BCP spokesman said: “That scheme will promote the delivery of defences with an annual exceedance probability of 0.5 per cent, allowing for 100 years of predicted sea level rise.”

Bournemouth Echo:

With regard to the interactive map, Climate Central said: “Areas shaded red reflect places that are lower than the selected local sea-level and/or coastal flood projection according to the selected elevation dataset.“Red areas must also meet hydrologic connectivity criteria. This refined “bathtub approach” makes mapping numerous scenarios fast and efficient and reproduces potential future sea-level threats well.

“However, when coastal floods are added, the bathtub approach becomes less accurate the higher the flood. Maps take neither engineered coastal defences nor long-term dynamic changes into account.

Bournemouth Echo:

“Due to the error always present in wide-area elevation datasets, as well as the other limitations described here, this map should be regarded as a screening tool to identify places that may require deeper investigation of risk.”