The Importance of Sea Defence Systems in the UK

As all citizens of the United Kingdom are well aware, the UK has had an extremely wet and difficult start to 2014.  Due to heavy rains, fierce storms, and tidal surges, the United Kingdom has experienced massive prolonged flooding and are scrambling for a solution.  They are experiencing tidal flooding from sea and tidal rivers, fluvial flooding as rivers overflow, groundwater flooding because of the over-saturated earth, and flash flooding as sewers cannot contain the excessive rainfall.

According to, in England alone, more than 5 million properties, both coastal and mainland, are at risk for flooding.  Also, there is a strong risk for more than 200 homes to be completely destroyed due to coastal erosion and flooding within the next 20 years.  An additional 2,000 homes will become at risk during those 20 years.  Climate projections have indicated that sea levels will continue to rise and rainfall will increase; this two situations will definitely result in more and more flooding as time progresses.

What types of sea defence systems can the United Kingdom employ to protect its structures? There are more primitive defences such as seawalls and concrete inland walls. Some more recent defences include allowing flooding in specific areas as a way to direct the flooding.  This controlled flooding normally directs the water away from homes and land covered with concrete towards farmlands where the exposed earth can absorb the water over time.

Coastal areas can also take part in beach nourishment which is a process of bringing in sand from other sources or transporting original sand that has been eroded back to areas that have suffered from erosion.  Some engineers opt to do nothing and let coastal lands that have low value and a small concentration of inhabitants to continue to flood and erode naturally to avoid having to find other mainland areas to direct the flood waters.

The leaders of coastal town, Medmerry, West Sussex, recently used a combination of these options in a project that was completed in the fall of 2013.  They spent two years and £28 million to create approximately seven kilometre’s of new sea walls that were erected behind older defences that no longer kept the water at bay.  While over 350 properties are now protected by the walls, the 180 hectares of flooded land has created a protected costal habitat for a variety of birds and vegetation and will be open to the public as a visitor’s attraction.

There are a wide variety of options for sea defence systems for the UK.  Each option has its own set of pros and cons that the local government officials and citizens must weigh as they determine what is best for their city.  Regardless of what methods are chosen, it is of utmost importance that the residents of the United Kingdom are able to protect their families and their properties from the guaranteed flooding that will continue to affect the country, whether it is located in coastal areas or mainland.

At EvansEnviron Ltd we install sea defence systems around the United Kingdom, so please get in touch with us today!

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