Authorities in charge of Britain’s coastline must face up to the fact that huge areas will be lost to erosion and large scale cliff collapses, engineers said this week.
Consultant Halcrow’s lead earth engineering and science technologist Roger Moore said a combination of rising sea levels and more winter rain would contribute to higher levels of coastal erosion.
“It is a natural process and the broad message is that it is likely to worsen in the future,’ said Moore.
His comment s followed another dramatic collapse on Dorset’s Jurassic coastline last week.
Thousands of tonnes of rock slid onto the beach at St Oswald’s Bay, east of Durdle Door.
Morr said most cliff collapses begin with seawater eroding the base of a cliff, “priming the slope to fail”.
“The effect of rainfall becomes important as the groundwater levels in the slope are raised; this increases the pressure in the rock, triggering the event,” said Moore.
British Geological Survey engineer and geologist Tom Dijkstra said the St Oswald’s collapse was likely to have been a delayed reaction as it occurred despite falling groundwater levels.
“Like glacial movements there is a significant delay factor and larger landslides tend to need a lot of precursory driving before responding - in this case - to the waterlogging that has built up over the last year,” he said.
South West Coast Path trail officer Mark Owen said there were usually around four of five collapses a year along the 1,000km path which runs from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset.
He said that this year there had been more than 30.