Climate Adaptation Scilly

The Climate Adaptation Scilly project will help the islands to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Coastal flooding and erosion already affect community, wildlife, economy and our scarce water supply – and it’s only going to get worse. Funded by £3.6m in grants from the European Regional Development Fund and the Environment Agency, the project will run until June 2023. 

Coastal sea defences

Several sites on St Mary’s, St Martin’s, Bryher and St Agnes need improvements to their sea defences. Seawater that overtops existing dunes and seawalls during storms can flood into settlements like Hugh Town and Old Town, and it can also affect our drinking water supplies and the ecosystems behind dunes. Dunes will be raised and levelled to reduce overtopping risk by adding sand and fine gravel similar to what’s already present. At some sites existing rock armour will be tidied up, but in others new rock armour protection will be built. Demountable (ie, temporary removable) walls will be added to various gaps in existing seawalls.

Sand dunes are a natural form of flood protection. Wind, water and people can all erode the dunes down. Gaps in the dunes used by people to access the beach are often much lower than the rest of the dune, offering a path for seawater to overtop into the land behind during storms. Dunes will be renourished and strengthened by planting vegetation, which will help stabilise them. We still need to be able to get onto the beach, so boardwalks will be installed over the newly raised dunes to reduce the erosive impact of feet. At Porth Hellick a new boat ramp will be constructed to reduce the impact of vehicles on the dunes and beach.

The first stage of of the sea defence work is expected to begin in late 2021. We have now published our proposals for three sites on St Mary's. Here are links to the sites where you can find out more:

Rainwater harvesting

The Isles of Scilly use more freshwater than can be accessed readily from natural sources. The desalination plant can produce only a limited amount of freshwater each day, and the water it produces is not as nice to drink as groundwater. Water demand can be reduced by using rainwater. Businesses will be invited to apply for grants to install rainwater harvesting systems, with contributions from the businesses themselves. Rainwater stored in tanks can be connected to a building’s plumbing and used for non-potable reasons like toilet flushing, washing machines or general wash-down. 

Climate Change Adaptation Plan

Climate change impacts many aspects of our environment on the Isles of Scilly. A climate change adaptation (CCA) action plan for the islands will help us understand these climate change impacts and prioritise what we can do to respond to them. We’ll develop the CCA action plan by consultation with the Scilly community. Community resilience to climate change impacts will be essential as we look to protect Scilly for future generations.

You can find our FAQ here that will hopefully answer many of your questions. If you have a specific question, or feedback, that isn't covered here then please email us at adaptivescilly@scilly.gov.uk