SAGE has been set up to do a number of things and one is to inform us here in Shankill of the possible consequences of Climate change for the village.
For many, especially those who live near the sea, there is the constant anxiety about the erosion of the cliffs. And often one hears the question why don’t ‘they’ do something about it.
The relevance of climate change to this question is twofold: first at a conservative estimate sea level is expected to rise by three feet within the next eighty five years, one generation, and that will greatly aggravate the erosion especially if we factor in the more extreme weather we can also expect.
But the other reason we should be worried about climate change is the extra rain we are now getting because if Mr. Clarke [RIP] an engineer was correct in a lecture he gave in the village, perhaps thirty years ago, the problem with the cliffs will get seriously worse. After much study and observation he had concluded that the cliffs, which are moraine material and consist of very fine sandy particles, are eroding because rain water falling inland is washing away the cliffs as it percolates down and drains to the sea, hence the fact that it is so hard to prevent the cliffs eroding as normal protection systems don’t work. But for us, here and now, as we get more and heavier rain, we can expect the cliffs to disappear even faster than they have been doing for the last one hundred years. If you look at the videos taken over Christmas of the collapse of the cliffs it is very clear that the cliffs are washing out rather than being undermined by the sea. This can be seen very clearly at the Cawbawn access point where the soil has vanished from behind the steps where it would never be reached by waves.
In view of this we must be vigilant that there is no development authorised within two or three hundred metres of the cliffs.