*Photograph: John Mangan
COASTAL erosion and rising sea levels could demand many Clare businesses and residences to abandon their properties.
By Adam Maloney
Business and homeowners may be forced to relocate from the coast under determinations from the National Coastal Change Management Strategy.
This coastal protection scheme will be applied to all nineteen counties along the coastline, with many Clare towns and villages at risk.
Lahinch homeowner, Paul McGrath is one of many at risk of abandoning his property on the coast. He told The Clare Echo, “We’ve had the apartment since 1999, it’s next door to a house called Cross Sea House, which they claim on Airbnb that the Cross Sea house is the closest house to the sea in Ireland. It’s very hard to contradict that because it’s literally just a couple of feet from the promenade onto the sea”.
He recalled the most recent severe weather event in Lahinch, the storms of 2014. “There was a very bad storm and our front window was completely blown in. There was a lot of windows blown in, in that storm in 2014, and just for example as well, the main Lahinch to Liscannor road, that was flooded by the sea water and the seawater actually reached in approximately 500 metres inland you know, so it’s a huge concern and like in Ireland there’s over 40,000 people living within 100 metres of the sea. That going forward is going to be a problem”.
Paul told The Clare Echo, “I’d be worried like when I’m dead and gone, whoever is fortunate enough to have it as a home or a holiday home that they’re going to be facing trouble, there’s no question about it”.
Statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency detail that sea levels raise 3.6cm per decade and may reach one metre by the end of the century along with the Central Statistics Office outlining that 40% of the population live less than 5km from the coastline.
A native of Killaloe, Paul stated, “I’d have to respect what the experts are telling us and if they’re saying like down the road that we’ll have to abandon, then so be it, you have to respect nature you know, and you have to respect the power of the sea”.
“It has to be addressed, you know if anyone took a stop and even go into the photo press and look at the damage that was done in 2014, like there was large concrete wall capping’s, they were tossed 50 metres across the main promenade into the car park. And there was tarmacadam on the promenade, uprooted us and it was the same as if it was sand. There was no boundaries for the sea that day or for that couple of nights with the sea you know. Even the car park I think it was left under 1 and half metres of water and there’s a children’s playground there covered and again there was quite a few surfing schools operating out of the lower car park and they were just submerged you know,” the retired farmer added.