This is covered by:

AQA 8035, Cambridge IGCSE, CEA, Edexcel A, Edexcel B, Eduqas A, OCR A, OCR B, WJEC

Why Protect The Coast?

Across the planet the coastal areas are generally well populated. Although coastal zones account for less than 15% of the world land area , they are home to more than 40% of the world population. The average population density in coastal areas is three times higher than the average density .

In Europe alone, around 50% of the population lives within 50 kilometres of the sea!

People live near the coast for many reasons including access to transport facilities such as sea ports, for fishing, for tourism, for a good climate and for flat land.  However, the coastal zone is vulnerable to flooding, wave erosion and degradation of the delicate ecosystem. This means that coastal land is well-populated and economically valuable, but also vulnerable, so protecting it is important.  The costs of protecting it can be justified because the cost of doing nothing will be greater than that of installing coastal defences.

Many people have an interest in the coast; people who live there, tourists, business owners who rely on tourism, the fishing industry, sea transport networks, railways, roads, power stations needing access to water, and many more. They all  rely upon their coastal assets being protected.  However, their individual interests don’t always match, and this can lead to conflicting needs. For example, tourists want access to attractive beaches whilst power stations want vast quantities of sea water and no tourists in the way, the railways want their coastal lines protected by concrete walls whilst home owners want unobstructed views out to sea.

Coastal defences are categorised into two main groups called ‘Hard Engineering’ and ‘Soft Engineering’. Hard Engineering involves the use of ‘hard’ structures’ such as groynes, sea walls, riprap and gabions. Soft Engineering involves dunes, managed retreat (allowing the sea to erode parts of the coast) and other ‘natural’ solutions.