The coastal village of Hemsby is a popular throwback to the archetypal 1980s beach resort, with amusement parks, adventure golf, and casinos drawing tens of thousands of visitors every year. In recent decades, however, the resort has become synonymous with the rapid erosion of the Norfolk coastline which, since 1970, has receded by more than 300 metres. While coastal erosion is a problem that affects many low-lying areas along the East Coast, one-third of all properties under threat are in Norfolk – and, with climate change, it’s a problem that is rapidly getting worse.
In this article, we’ll explore the nature of the threat facing England’s coastal communities and why erosion control measures are the lynchpin in the battle against nature.
Coastal Erosion: How Bad Is It?
The erosion of England’s eastern fringes is a problem that dates back more than 5,000 years. The country has some of Europe’s fastest receding coastline, with cliffs comprised of sand, silt, and gravel that are an ineffective barrier to the aggression of the North Sea.
But erosion is progressing at a faster rate than ever before, spurred on by climate change which drives waves higher up cliffs and further along beaches. As sea levels rise – the Met Office forecasts an increase of up to 1.12m by the end of the century - the erosion at the foot of cliffs increases, causing greater instability and increasing the risk of collapse.
Coastal erosion puts property, farmland, infrastructure, and natural habitats at severe risk.
Densely populated regions, such as the Thames Estuary, also house critical national infrastructure that is vulnerable to erosion.
30,000 properties are situated within 25 metres of highly vulnerable coastline, and more than half a million are estimated to be at risk of coastal flooding.
1,600km of major roads, 650km of railway, and 92 railway stations are also in danger.
How Can We Protect The Coast From Erosion?
As coastlines recede at alarming speed, the preservation of low-lying communities has become a priority.
At the heart of the problem is soil erosion which increases the risk of flooding and poses a direct threat to the homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure. Erosion control measures not only safeguard the physical integrity of buildings but also protect the cohesive fabric of the communities that inhabit them.
While shoring up coastline defences is imperative, erosion control goes much further. By preventing soil erosion, the stability of the land can be strengthened, reducing the likelihood of destabilising landslides and sinkholes. A proactive approach to the problem of environmental change cultivates resilience in the face of climatic volatility and nurtures a sustainable environment for future generations.
At GeoGrow, we offer effective soil erosion control solutions that can improve resilience to the forces of nature and help to preserve buildings and communities that reside in vulnerable areas. To find out more, please get in touch today.
Image Source: Canva