AN EXPERT has warned flood defences could be pushed to breaking point if we do not drastically reduce pollution.

University of Brighton geography lecturer Dr Ray Ward said low-lying areas across Sussex will be most at risk of increase flooding.

Towns along the rivers Adur and Ouse, as well as coastal meadows like Cuckmere Haven, will be most at risk if carbon dioxide emissions continue as they are.

And because climate change increases the likelihood of storms and extreme weather, communities across the Sussex coast will experience climate change first hand.

“If you get a big storm from the Atlantic, that will push a big mass of water along the Channel,” said Dr Ward.

“If you combine that with rising sea levels, that will be put our coastal defences at breaking point.”

According to the United Nations, sea levels are currently rising by 3.3 millimetres per year.

But because Sussex is actually sinking into the sea by 0.1mm per year, our county is especially at risk.

And according to Dr Ward, the UN’s predictions may be on the lighter side.

“Other reports suggest the sea is rising by as much as four or five millimetres per year,” he said.

“That’s really serious.

“In the worst-case scenario, the sea will have risen by a metre by 2050.

“Even looking at mid-range predictions, it could still be as much as sixty centimetres.”

Though Dr Ward insists the Environment Agency is doing a “great job” at fighting flooding, certain areas are still at risk.

Already-flooded Cuckmere Haven will effectively become saltmarsh as flooding becomes the norm.

And because of rising sea levels, East Sussex’s cliffs will be undercut by high tides much more often.

“At Telscombe Cliffs the A259 is quite close to the cliff edge, which is worrying,” said Dr Ward.