Coastal erosion in East Anglia is occurring at the rate of over 2 metres per year in some places and is a constant problem due to natural causes and human activities. Until recently, protection was done gradually and completed on a local scale. Recent studies have highlighted the need for a more comprehensive approach on a regional scale. Many different strategies have been suggested eg. Wave walkers, rip-rap boulders, sea walls, with re-surfacing and drainage.
There are four main types of erosion.
* Corrasion (abrasion) is caused by large waves hurling beach material against a cliff.
* Attrition is when waves cause rocks and boulders on the beach to bump into each other and to break up into small particles.
* Corrosion (solution) is when salts and other acids in seawater slowly dissolve a cliff.
* Hydraulic pressure is the force of waves compressing air in cracks in a cliff.
These four types of erosion are eating away the coast of East Anglia and there are only two things the local councils can do. They can let nature take its course or they can put sea defences in to protect the coast. If these precautions are not taken there is a large risk of flooding.
Local people and economy
The local people of the seaside towns of East Anglia are for coastal protection, as it will save their homes and jobs (if they work in town). It is important that the local people have a say in this mater because its their homes that are at risk, and farmers complain that their land isn’t protected but local councils say that sea defences cost a lot of money and that their first priority is to protect the more densely populated areas such as town and villages, but there are some groups of people that are against coastal protection.
English Nature: The conservation organisation, “English Nature” does not support “hard” engineering solutions such as sea walls. They argue that sea walls are unsightly and do not disperse the energy of incoming waves but simply change their direction. The waves then flow back, eroding the beach. The beach is lowered and the base of the wall is undermined, leading to the eventual collapse of the wall. Sea walls also prevent the addition of new beach material to the beach from erosion of the land.
Groynes also trap sediment, preventing the movement of material along the shore and increasing the rate of erosion in areas deprived of material. Groynes need repair and maintenance over time, and they are ruining the view.
The “English Nature” group say it would be more environmentally friendly and not so ugly if sand dunes or salt marshes were used.
Local councils have an obligation to protect the land of both business and domestic ratepayers.
The Clacton sea defence scheme
Dredging at Felixstowe and Harwich harbours continues to deprive Clacton beaches of long shore drift deposits. A narrow beach is not capable of absorbing wave energy. A sandier beach is also essential to maintain Clacton as a tourist resort and a retirement centre. After conducting a cost-benefit analysis the local council decided that the benefits to the town were greater than the costs, and has decided to strengthen the wave walkers, rip-raps, sea walls and the promenade re-surfing and drainage.
Wave walkers cost 5,000,000 and only last 25 years. They have an ugly modern look.
Rip-rap boulders cost 100,000 and last a very long time. Each boulder ways about half a tone and they’re not a nice site for the coast.
The straight sea wall is plain and erodes very slowly, so it doesn’t need to be replaced frequently.
The sea wall with a curve at the top is used so large waves are deflected back to the sea. These are also long lasting.
Standard wooden groynes cost between 25,000-40,000 depending on how long they are. They need to be replaced frequently.
Fish-tail groynes cost 1,000,000 each but this is because they protect the coast better than the standard one’s and last much longer.
In the future the local councils of East Anglia hope to have defences like these protecting our coast.
Since global warming is melting the ice caps the sea level of Great Britain has risen 15 cm since the turn of the century, largely in response to warmer surface temperatures. It is predicted that by 2030 the sea level will rise by 40cm. Such a rise would cause major changes to the coastline of the U.K. A rapid rise in such a short time could wash away our beaches and by the twenty second century places like the Themes Basin could be flooded for good and much of East Anglia would be flooded if a solution is not found.
The sea is constantly wearing away the coast. The problem is much worse in areas where the cliff materials are soft, such as on the East Anglian coast where clay and sand form most of the cliff faces.
Here are some reports of hoe bad erosion can get in East Anglia.
“You keep waking up thinking about the cliffs, and wandering how much more will be gone in the morning.”
“We wanted a sea view but not this close.”
“Just before Christmas I though I noticed the field in front of our house was sinking. Then a couple of days ago a huge wedge 7 metres by 12 metres disappeared. We are really worried about what is going to happen. We want to move inland, but doubt if we can sell the house.”
Seaports in East Anglia
Seaports in East Anglia are also to blame because they deplete long shore drift and dredging.
Harwich port has 5000-10,000 metres cubed per year of depleted longshore drift and 250,000 metres cubed per year of dredged material, because of this beaches and cliffs are left more vulnerable to erosion and even with sea defences such as a sea wall in front of the cliff it is only partially successful. The resort of Clacton, south of Harwich rapidly losing one of its main attractions, its beach, due to man provoked changes on its part of the East Anglian coast.
One example of what happens to the coast of East Anglia is Clacton on sea and Walton on the Naze. The erosion got to the point that the coastline is now lined with sea defences such as wave walkers, hard points, rip-rap, groynes and a variety of sea walls protecting the promenade and cliffs. For the beach, the council pay for beach replenishment but they only do this for the populated areas, which are in need of it more than a farmer or two. Each of these sea defences has its own use and the councils have a large amount of these spread along the coast.
I think the coast of East Anglia should be protected. I also think that the local councils could do more to protect the coast. To start with they could protect coast not only where the towns and villages are, but could raise money so they can protect farmers land and people that live by the sea, because its not fair that people that live in town have protected homes where as people that don’t have to worry how much longer their land will last. Even if the council put rip-raps down, it might cost a lot of money but it would still slow down erosion a lot. If something isn’t done these people who can’t sell their homes will have to wait until they have no home, then what will they do. Although undensely populated areas are not protected, the populated areas are protected well, but they still need more. Places like Clacton and Walton still need more protection or else things like marine erosion will get worse and global warming will over come the sea defences and inland places like the Themes basin and the Norfolk broads will be flooded.