Coasts Revision - Coastal Management

Advantages and disadvantages of different management strategies 

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  • Created by: caz
  • Created on: 24-12-10 17:43


- How coastal management is organised in England and Wales

- The differences between hard and soft engineering techniques

- The advantages and disadvantages of different management types

- Where hard and soft engineering techniques have been used

- To know and understand why some techniques are more suitable for different locations

- To know and understand the conflicts that occur when trying to protect coastlines 

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Coastal Management in the UK

The Deparment for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is reponsible for the protection of the coastline. 

Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) explain how each coastal area should be managed using the following criteria 

Hold the Line - maintain existing coastline by building defences

Advance the Line - build new defences seaward of existing line

Managed Retreat - allow land to flood and construct a new line of defence inland

No intervention - allow natural processes to shape the land 

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Hard Engineering

Hard Engineering uses man-made structures to reduce erosion and flooding

They are often short term, expensive, ugly and not sustainable.



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Soft Engineering

Soft Engineering works with natural processes, causing less damage than hard techniques which battle against nature, often relocating the damage.

They are often longer term, less expensive, attractive and more sustainable 

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Recurved Sea Wall


A concrete wall curved under the side to reflect the energy of the waves and reduce erosion

A form of hard engineering 

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Recurved Sea Wall


- Most effective means of preventing erosion 

- Reflect rather than absorb the energy


- Very expensive (up to £2.5million per km)

- Creates strong backwash

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Rock Armour/Rip-Rap

Large boulders on the beach which lessen the force of the waves by absorbing wave energy within the gaps between the rocks

A form of hard engineering

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Rock Armour/Rip-Rap


- Relatively cheap

- Uses natural materials

- Acts as habitat similar to rock pools


- Can be ugly

- Can be moved around by strong winds and would need to be replaced

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Cages of rocks built into the cliff face, the small rocks help to absorb wave energy

A form of hard engineering

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- Cheaper than sea walls

- Can be effective where there is severe erosion


- Ugly as often used in large numbers

- Cost approx £350 per metre

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Wooden Revetment


Wooden structures which break the force of the waves and trap beach material behind them

A form of hard engineering

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Wooden Revetment


- Much cheaper than sea wall

- Effective at breaking force of waves 


- Less durable than sea wall - will need replacing more 

- Don't give protection to base of cliff

- Cost approx £1000 per metre

- Quite ugly

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Wooden or steel structures which stop longshore drift and protect the base of the cliff

A form of hard engineering

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- Stops longshore drift 

- Encourage build up of the beach

- Effectively reduce erosion


- Can increase erosion further down coast 

- Starves areas further down the coast of sediment

- Cost £5000-£6000 each

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Beach Replenishment


Builds up the beach by replenishing beach material particularly atthe base of structures to provide a 'natural' solution to absorbing wave energy

A form of soft engineering

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Beach Nourishment


- Provides a natural, aesthetically pleasing solution

- Difficult to tell management is taking place 

- Creates wide beaches which act as barrier against further erosion


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Beach Nourishment


- Can be expensive to keep as sediment will be moved by longshore drift etc

- Sediment needs to be taken from somewhere, so could be damaging other beaches

- Expensive (£800 per metre) 

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Case Studies

Hard Engineering - West Bay

Soft Engineering - Pevensey Bay, East Sussex

Conflict - North East Norfolk

Sea Palling - Sea Wall, rip-rap, beach replenishment, off shore reefs

Happisburgh - Managed retreat


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