“I’m never, ever going to leave”

Published on Al Jazeera and Earth Journalism Network

About 1.5 million people living along the Thames’s banks are exposed to floods and eroding coasts. Malcolm Newell’s (pictured below) home is among the five million properties in England at risk of falling into the sea, according to estimates by the Environment Agency (EA), the country’s public body managing flood risk.

Last year, the United Kingdom’s government kicked off a record $6.2 billion investment in flood and coastal defenses in England to better protect 336,000 properties by 2027. Some areas have seen these investments materialize already, like the port of Tilbury, 35km east of London, where a $41 million scheme was launched to install new dual-function lock gates in the estuary.

However, in the meantime, new homes continue to be built in flood-risk areas as part of the local authorities’ efforts to tackle the housing shortage. In 2021, more than 5,000 new homes were granted planning permission on floodplains in the East of England