*The Kilkee Castle as seen from Dunlicka Castle on Loop Head. Photograph: Valerie O’Sullivan.

Clare properties in both the residential and commercial industry could potentially be hit with large scale flooding and coastal erosion by 2050, incurring damages of up to €264 million.

A recent study published by global information systems group, Gamma Location Intelligence looks at the impact of coastal flooding and Climate Change in Ireland. The study notes the pernicious implications of climate change on rising sea levels, citing Co Clare as the second most affected county in terms of total properties affected by coastal flooding, with 13.3 per cent of addresses susceptible to proprietary damage.

Coastal flooding transpires as a result of rising sea levels, with extreme sea levels occurring directly from a combination of waves, tides and storm surges. Ireland’s vastly exposed coastline makes it extremely vulnerable to storms and storm intensities are expected to increase due to marine heatwaves in the ocean.

Richard Cantwell, in his study, affirms, “Climate change will have many impacts on Ireland, more erratic weather conditions leading to increased rainfall and more intense storms as well as water shortages in summer months. One important component of change is rising sea levels. Globally sea levels are expected to rise by 3 to 4mm per year, increasing to 15mm per year by 2100. In Ireland satellite measurements have shown that sea level has risen by 3.18mm per annum between 1993 and 2018.”

The Office of Public Works published the Irish Coastal Protection Strategy in 2013, identifying past instances of extreme sea levels which give to a 0.5m and 1m rise in sea level. A detailed infographic was produced, denoting 337 points on the island where a 1m rise in sea level was marked. A further 75cm was added for future extreme sea level projections. The inferred calculations have allowed for a table to be drawn up, detailing the most affected counties in terms of number of flooded addresses and percentage of total addresses within the county.

Dublin tops the leader board in relation to total properties affected, with the Capital seeing 23,435 properties at risk of flooding. This amounts to 4.5 per cent of total properties. Percentage wise, Louth tops the chart with 19 per cent of total properties potentially in jeopardy. Next up is Clare, notorious for its vast and highly indulgent coastline. 8,969 properties are at risk in Clare, constituting 13.3 per cent of total properties, commercial and residential, within the county boundary.

For most home and business owners in Clare, such projections are trivial. However, an in-depth analysis of the financial costs that are due to incur as a result of climate change and rising sea levels, are certainly a cause for concern.

Richard Cantwell reveals, “Applying inflation and other factors to these figures we have assumed an average household claim of €21,450 and an average commercial claim of €80,720. We can estimate the cost of climate change influenced sea level rise on property in Ireland at over €2 Billion.”

The breakdown of financial implications places Clare third highest on the list, next to Dublin and Louth, respectively. The capital can expect expenses of €616 million generated from both the commercial and residential sectors. Co Clare then, could potentially incur damages of €158 million in the residential sector and €106 million in commercial costs, totalling a significant, €264 million. This figure does not account for the restoration of infrastructure or motor vehicles in the face of heavy flooding.

The study serves as a stark warning for those coastal regions most afflicted by flooding and erosion, however; all is not in vain. Premeditation and positive action could pave the way forward to prevent such physical and economic ruin from taking place.

Cantwell confirmed that the analysis does not take into account the presence of coastal protection infrastructure both existing and planned. “Modelling the potential costs and savings of this infrastructure would be useful”.

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