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Learning to Live with Environment Change - Transcript


00:00            Wide – Dorset coast; waves coming into shore
                      Holiday chalets on crumbling cliff tops
                      Flooding – Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire (archive amateur footage)
                      As above
                      Dr McEwen
                      c.u. photograph of flooding on the Severn river
                      Group shot – Dr McEwen and colleagues
                      Wide – Rock Groyne on Dorset coast
                      c.u. Brian James studying cliff line
                      Over shoulder shot – B. James looking at coastline
                      Wide – B. James standing on rock groyne
                      Dr McEwen and colleagues looking at flood marker
                      c.u. researcher and flood marker
                      Dr McEwen and colleague study photograph
                      c.u. photograph

Guide Voice: The environment we live in is constantly changing. Forces of nature re-shape the land around us, flooding our rivers and battering our coastlines – but have we learnt to live with these changes?

Dr Lindsey McEwen, from the UK’s University of Gloucestershire, is leading a unique project to involve local communities in researching their histories in order to improve understanding of longer term flood risk along the lower reaches of the River Severn. And Brian James, from BournemouthUniversity, is part of a team concerned with the protection of the coastline, involved in the debate between the use of heavy sea defences and simply letting nature take its course.

Dr McEwen believes that a community based approach to understanding the history of local flood risk is key in developing sustainable solutions to the problems caused by flooding.

00:46  SOT: Dr. Lindsey McEwen, Principal Lecturer in Physical Geography, University of Gloucestershire  -  “My research interests incorporate looking at historical flood patterns, looking at how historical flood patterns sit within present day flood series and I conceived the project as being something that was novel that you actually engaged the public in that process as part of increasing the public awareness of flood risk.”

01:05            Wide and zoom in on graphic showing the River Severn and local towns
                      Archive photograph – Flooding in Tewkesbury, 1947
                      As above
                      As above
                      Archive film footage of 1960’s flooding (2 clips)
                      Group  shot, Dr McEwen and research assistants (Christelle Angeniol and Russell Goodwin)
                      c.u. finger pointing at map locations
                      Wide, Dr McEwen and assistants
                      Research assistants looking at photos of flooding
                      Medium shot, Christelle Angeniol and Russell Goodwin
                      c.u. Russell Goodwin
                      Fingers pointing at photos
                      c.u. Christelle Angeniol
                      Checking photos against maps    

Guide Voice: The River Severn, in the west of England, has a long history of flooding, with some records going back as far as the 13th century, so it’s ideal as a case study. As these newspaper photos from 1947 and amateur film footage from the 1960s show – it has experienced quite major floods at intervals over the years and it is official records of these floods, as well as personal recollections, scientific documentation and other archival sources that Dr McEwen believes will provide essential information to help increase local knowledge of the changing patterns of flood risk. This also helps communities to prepare for the impact of future flooding.  

While the debate about global warming goes on there is little doubt that the world’s climate is changing. This change brings increasing variability of weather conditions and the probability of more frequent flooding. Levies and barriers are expensive to build and create other problems when they fail, so projects to find more sustainable means of dealing with flooding are increasingly important.

02:01   SOT: Dr McEwen -I think that in a climate change context where you can anticipate greater frequency of flooding, more moderate floods as well as the extremes then looking at other options is very important because it’s not financially sustainable for communities to protect against the highest floods that are going to occur in those scenarios. So I would say looking at alternatives is very important and increasing awareness not just in community members but people in local authorities, planners the whole sweep of people who might be embraced in the term community rather than just the people who are residents who are vulnerable on flood plains

02:40            Wide of Christchurch Bay, Dorset
                      Rock Groyne and sign
                      Wide and zoom in on graphic showing Dorset coast and Christchurch Bay
                      Wide – Brian James studying maps
                      c.u. Brian James
                      c.u. hand tracing coastline on monochrome map
                      c.u. Brian James
                      c.u. pencil tracing coastline on coloured map
                      Wide over-shoulder shot of B. James and Ordinance Survey maps
                      Wide – coastal protection at Christchurch Bay
                      Couple strolling on cliff top
                      Wide – rock groyne

Guide Voice:  Scientists also suggest that we might need to find more sustainable means of managing our coastlines At Christchurch Bay on the Dorset coast there is a perfect example of the contrast between the use of heavy engineering solutions and simply allowing nature to take its course.

At Highcliffe, to the west, valuable housing on the cliff top means that extensive engineering solutions have been employed to protect the coastline. At Barton on Sea, to the east, the coastline has been left unprotected, leading to natural erosion. The protected area might, on first appearance, be more aesthetically pleasing, but how important is it to protect stretches of coast to this extent?

03:19     SOT:- Brian James, Senior Lecturer - Environmental and Geographical Sciences, School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University – “For those people that are affected directly by it it’s a very big problem. But we shouldn’t forget it’s a very natural process that has gone on for a very long time and will continue to go on as part of a very big natural process – the key thing is learning how to cope with it and how to manage it that is sustainable in terms of cost and is sensible in terms of what we’re able to protect and what is clearly not cost effective to protect”.

03:51            Wide – Christchurch Bay (unprotected area)
                      Pan left and down from cliff-top cottage to terraced cliff and coastal protection
                      Pan from protected coastline to unprotected area
                      Wide of crumbling cliff showing chalets at cliff edge
                      Wide of unprotected cliff area
                      Wide of unprotected Bay

Guide Voice:  Climate change is likely to affect sea levels and in turn may alter erosion patterns along our coast. Existing coastal engineering defences may help to exacerbate the problem. By studying areas like Christchurch Bay researchers can learn a lot about the patterns of erosion and work with the natural process to ensure that engineering intervention is only used where it is most needed and that natural erosion, which creates its own, less intrusive defence systems is left to happen wherever possible.

04:20 SOT: Brian James – “In the past, certainly, the approach has been very much one of hard coastal engineering and that’s played an important role; but more and more now, the understanding of the natural processes  is leading us towards a clearer view that it has to be an integrated process.”

04:40            Medium wide – eroded cliffs
                      Pull out from cyclist to reveal Dorset coastline

Guide Voice:  One thing is clear; as climate change makes environmental forces ever more unpredictable and the costs of flood and coastal defences rise; we need solutions for the future that work with nature, rather than against it.

04:53                  END  

Flooding footage by kind courtesy of E. Hill


Page contact: Shuehyen Wong Last revised: Mon 9 May 2005
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