The Cornish town with climate change on its doorstep


The residents of a seaside town are coming together to look at how they can tackle climate change. Bude, on the north Cornwall coast, has been described as the UK's Maldives - idyllic and beautiful but facing an imminent threat due to rising sea levels.


As Alara Vural Wedgwood prepares to head out to train with the local Surf Life Saving Club, she says the beach and seafront are what brings the community together.

"People live here, it's not just a tourist place," the marketing consultant says.

"There's such a strong sense of community and a lot of that is based around the seafront. It's what brings the community of Bude together."

But Mrs Vural Wedgwood fears "with climate change, there might not be a seafront in the way that we know it".

Images created by the Environment Agency show the potential impact rising sea levels could have on Bude.

The visualisations for Crooklets Beach show cafes, the car park and the town's Surf Life Saving Club could all be underwater in about 30 years' time.

"We're talking about our hometown, parts of it being under water," Mrs Vural Wedgwood says.

"It is scary and actually makes it very real."

Liz Taylor, from the Environment Agency, says: "I understand people might be shocked.

"We produced those images based on scientific information to give an idea of what things could look like in the future if nothing was done.

"I think there is real potential to take positive action to adapt so that the community here can really thrive."

The town is one year into a £2m National Lottery-funded project that will run for five years and look at how it can adapt to the changing climate.

Bude Climate Partnership programme director Robert Uhlig says: "The reason we got the funding is we are right on the front line of this, the sharp end of climate change.

"We have got to take action now. The clock is ticking."

The partnership, which is a group of local environmental organisations, says it is working together to develop positive community-led responses to the issue.

"We've got lots of different projects, they all bring the community together," Mr Uhlig adds.

A sustainable tourism project is working with businesses, the community and visitors, while another helps people to get advice on how to make their homes cheaper to heat and more energy efficient.

Helping the community grow more of their own food is the focus of a third project.

Bude has also been given an extra £3m from the government to look at how it can adapt to a changing climate, as part of the Coastal Transition Accelerator Programme.

Mr Uhlig says the funding means the town can "look at what buildings and community assets we want to move".

Another key part of the project in Bude is the community jury which is made up of about 40 local people.

Jury member Sarah Freeman says: "We can't solve climate change in Bude but what I hope is that we can lead by example in the way we respond to it."

The jury has recommended prioritising "the role of natural processes in responding to local sea level rise".

Lorna Townsend has been running a mobile sauna business that overlooks Crooklets Beach for the last 10 months.

"As someone that lives by the ocean and seeing the things that we see, like big storms and high tides, it's definitely something that's at the forefront of people's minds," she said.

"To be more sustainable and help mitigate climate change is really important.

"I would really like to encourage my customers to use different modes of transport, so if they are staying locally, to walk, hike or cycle here instead of using their cars.

"Then for the business specifically, I'd really like to start looking at solar panels and things like that to become more sustainable energy wise."

Mark Ward, chief trainer at Bude Surf Life Saving Club, says: "People are becoming aware of what's going to happen, so climate change isn't some nebulous thing.

"We're on the coast, we will be affected and Bude is coming together and working out how to respond."




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