Coastal Realignment - Abbots Hall Farm

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What did they do?

Coastal Realignment 

At Abbotts Hall Farm in Essex they breached the existing hard engeneering of a sea wall in October 2002 at various places to allow the land behind it to naturally flood. In doing so, it allows the formation of salt marshes behind them. These act as a natural barrier to the waves as the waves disipate some of their energy on the marshy land, thus reducing the erosianal capacity of the waves. At Abbotts Hall Farm they helped this processes by introducing 26 polder sites along the sea wall. These are wooden 'boxes' in which encourage deposition and reduces erosion. These polders were made from Willow Hurdles, these are low cost, degradable materials to help to contribute to the sustainability of this soft engerneering approach. 

At Abbotts Hall Farm they also timed it to perfection, they breached the sea walls at the high tide (spring tide) meaning that the seeds in the waters were able to settle on the land behind the sea wall. This mean that they could collonise much quicker resulting in added protection and added objects where the waves could disipate it's energy.

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Benefits to the project


  • Less flooding
  • Visually more attractive
  • Recreation activities such as Bird Watching
  • Less erosion on houses down the coastline


  • Increased biodiversity
  • New habitats
  • Sustainable materials used
  • Releases the pressure on sea wall down the coastline


  • Saved £500,000 in hard sea defences
  • No maintanence costs
  • No payouts for the flooding
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Problems with the project


  • Managed retreat had to occur, therefore people had to move backwards
  • Farmland and cropland lost
  • People will argue it isnt as reliable?
  • Can only work if land behind the breached defence isn't built up


  • Cannot cope with a very large storm
  • Would be useless in a storm the size of Bascastle in August 2004
  • Have to flood land behind 


  • Payouts to those whose land is flooded
  • Compensation fees
  • Innitial cost could be high
  • Hard engeneering can offer employment for the comunity
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