Assessing coastal defence schemes
Sheringham is a seaside town in Norfolk, England, west of Cromer with a population of 7,143. On the coast the wind blows the waves from a north east direction. This is direction of the cold northern seas and oceans, e.g the Norwegian sea and the arctic ocean. Such strong waves carry large amounts of energy, and easily erode away the soft boulder clays of the coastline. The cliffs of Sheringham are made of soft sandy material deposited during the Ice Agea and therefore are vulnerable to erosion. Sheringhams beaches not only suffer from coastal erosion and different types of weathering but also from long shore drift. Longshore drift is a process that moves sediment from the beach up a coastline.

There is evidence of cliff slumping along the Sheringham coastline caused by powerful destructive waves

The coastal protection on the Sheringham coastline includes seawalls and groynes. The storm surge of 1953 damaged Sheringham’s wooden sea defences so they were then reconstructed. In front of the sea wall are groynes, armoured at their bases with large blocks of natural rock, which prevent long shore drift. There are numerous drains along the frontage. To the east towards West Runton the seawall ends just below Beeston Bump. From there a timber revetment and groyne system, designed and constructed in 1976, runs eastwards for 2 km (just over a mile) to West Runton Gap. In the latest coastal protection scheme, there was the repair and renovation of 900 meters of the existing sea walls and the placing of large rock armour stone in front of them to act as


buttresses and to absorb the energy of the breaking waves. This Stage of the project was completed in 1995 at a cost of £3.4 Million. The second stage works involved a lot of work on the groyne system at Sheringham. All five of the old timber groynes at the west end from the Lifeboat Station to the Admiralty Slip were renewed or replaced with new timber groynes and an extra groyne was built. These sea walls and groynes have been recently reconstructed or build and sea walls have a typical life span of 50-75 years and groynes up to 40 years. This shows that they are still in good shape and can continue to protect the coast. However tourism is high in Sheringham so the groynes may be damaged a lot more so may last a shorter time than expected. Sea walls aren’t very attractive so they have large visual impact on the environment which may in turn affect the tourist industry as people wouldn’t visit coasts that are unattracti ve. Sheringham: SEA WALLS Negative evaluation factor Vulnerable to erosion Vulnerable to overtopping Ugly (poor aesthetic value) Poor access to beach High risk safety hazard to general public Short life span. High maintenance costs High levels of disturbance caused to local people during construction Disturbs natural coastal processes and habitats Total value:

-3 -2 -1


2 X

3 X

X X X X X X -1

Positive evaluation factor Effective protection against erosion Effective against overtopping Enhances natural environment Good provision made for access to beach No obvious safety risk to general public Good life expectancy/ low maintenance costs Low levels of disturbance caused to local people during construction Maintains natural coastal processes and habitats

Protection is being given to the highest value areas i.e. where cliffs have soft rock and are most vulnerable to erosion and transport of sediment along the coast. The shoreline protection in place – sea walls and groynes prevent the erosion of cliffs and land at the right areas. Protection Technique Concrete sea walls Groynes Approx cost £2500 per metre £20,000 each Total length used 1,800 (m) 5 used Total cost £4500000 £100,000 Typical lifespan 50-75 years 25-40

Overall I think groynes are more cost effective as they don’t cost that much and have quite a long life span. They are effective at preventing longshore drift along the coast. If these were not in place, sediment would be transported up the coast. Sea walls are also quite effective


and can last up to 75 years. Even though the initial cost is high, they are really effective at preventing coastal erosion. If they were not in place, many houses and buildings along the coast can be destroyed effecting people socially and economically as they would have to find a new place to live and have high insurance costs on their homes. The scheme is meant to stop coastal erosion and longshore dift. Effective management schemes have been put in place to prevent this and to slow down coastal erosion.

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