Defra’s National Assessment of Assets at Risk Study (Halcrow, 2001) suggested that £7.7billion capital value assets were at risk from coastal erosion. Subsequent broad-brush estimates suggest that this figure is closer to £21billion over the next 100 years (Halcrow, 2007).
Quantifying and qualifying these estimates is thus of great importance to the nation in order to understand the full extent of the country’s exposure to risk at the coastline. This is particularly important given the latest climate change projections.
In 2006, the Environment Agency commissioned Halcrow to undertake the National Coastal Erosion Risk Mapping (NCERM) project. It aims to map the whole of the English and Welsh coastline susceptible to erosion and instability from natural processes such as wave attack, whilst taking account of the current defences and management activities. The study uses UKCP09 climate projection data to estimate future impact.
The project is part of the “Holistic Approach” work stream within the UK Government’s Making Space for Water development programme.
The ultimate aims of this project are to:
“…identify appropriate means to develop our coverage in order to model and map the risks from coastal erosion…” and
“…identify appropriate means of making this information publicly available.”
The National Coastal Erosion Risk Mapping project is examining the way in which quantified erosion hazards and risks can be generated for the coastline of England and Wales and presented graphically for interrogation by end-users.
It is being undertaken using a staged approach to enable ongoing evolution of the scope, methodology and the inclusion of up-to-date best practice.
The end product will be comparable to the Environment Agency’s National Flood Risk Mapping and utilise similar presentation techniques. There is an anticipated benefit in adopting this approach whereby the risks associated with flooding and erosion can be integrated for any given area.
It is a highly ambitious, national-scale undertaking. Through the development of sophisticated, innovative software the project team has developed the tools to deliver the outputs and capture information from those with the best practical, operating knowledge of our nation’s coastline.