THERE is much to be said for living in and island, as citizens of Portsmouth know only too well. Down through the centuries, our unique location has given us and our forebears a special sense of unity and pride.
Surrounded as we are by water, the city’s fortunes have forever and a day been inextricably linked to the sea.
We build ships and we are home to the navy that sends them to every corner of the globe to defend our interests and, if necessary, to fight for our freedom.
But it is perhaps all to easy to forget that the very sea that has aided our prosperity and wellbeing also poses a threat to our very existence.
How many people who stroll along the prom at Southsea and gaze out on one of the best and most beautiful maritime panoramas to be had actually stop to think that it is not beyond nature’s power to catastrophically breach the defensive walls there?
Anyone tempted to underestimate the treat of flooding should heed the warnings of experts today.
But, although there is no doubt about the threat hanging over the city and its surrounding communities, we should also take note that considerable investment is being made to prevent the sea rushing in.
Up to £80m is being spent on Portsea Island alone for flood defences.
And senior coastal engineer Matt Hosey, whilst acknowledging that money is tight, is confident enough to say of the Environment Agency: ‘Every time we bid for money we get it.’
It is of course a necessary duty of the Government to continue to enable the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership, which now protects more than 100 miles of coastline from Havant to Fareham, to do its job. And it is a huge job, with more than 40,000 properties in that stretch identified as being at risk of flood or erosion in the next 100 years.
An anticipated rise in sea levels of around three feet in that time poses a huge challenge to this generation in protecting not only ourselves, but our children and our children’s children.