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Coastal erosion

For many decades the approach to rapid coastal erosion was to build up sea defences, to try and slow down or even stop the erosion. Initially the attempts were thought a success, however after some years it was realised that the power of the sea and waves could overcome human attempts. Only could protection be a success if huge costs were going to be involved. Many methods around the British Isles have taken place in he last 50 years with many failures occurring. It is very rare to find a coastline that shows a decrease in the rate of erosion over many years after defences are in place. In fact in places the defences seem to have speeded up the erosion process. Coastal erosion is a natural process of erosion, transportation and deposition, interfering with this balance could be to blame for the rise in erosion on the coasts of some areas.

Groynes have been built out to sea in many areas of the British coastline. Their aim is to trap material and thus slow down the rate of longshore drift. However, these groynes in some areas are been blamed for the rise in erosion rates further down the coast.

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On the Holderness coastline in Humberside, erosion is taking place at a rate of about 2 metres per year. Along this coast there is a strong action of longshore drift taking place, which over centuries has produced a spit to form on the southern tip of Holderness, called Spurn Head spit. The spit is over 4km long and 100 metres wide. The majority of this coastline is glacial till, a soft fragile material, which is easily eroded. This however is not thought of as the only reason for the rapid rates of erosion. Human interference is thought to be another cause, as a result of the sea defences put in place. A rock groyne was built at Mappleton, to create a wider beach. This in turn would help protect the coastline, by absorbing the wave energy. Then at Withernsea a concrete sea wall with a splashback and boulder rip-rap in front of it was cr…

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