Coastal erosion maps being created by the Environment Agency could cause chaos around the UK if management strategies are not finalised before their publication, engineers warned this week.
The new maps will highlight the expected shape of the UK coastline in timeframes up to 100 years into the future. They are intended to assist the future management of coastal defence.However engineers fear that publishing maps without clear plans on how the changes will be managed, could cause uproar as people who are not currently aware that they are at risk from coastal erosion or flooding will suddenly realise that they are.'It could be chaos,' said North Norfolk District Council head of coastal defence Peter Frew. Concern over the impact of the new maps has prompted continued discussion over whether or not to actually make them public.'It is our doors that people are going to be knocking on wanting to know what we are going to do about it,' explained Worthing Borough Council principal engineer Bryan Curtis.However, he accepted that the publication of the maps could lever more cash into local authority coastal defence budgets.'It has got to drive more investment in the coastline. It will show The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) what will happen if more is not spent,' said Curtis.'Nothing like these maps exists at the moment. They will be a vital part of future coastal management,' explained Environment Agency project manager Geoff Astle. 'Defra will make that decision (over whether to publish the maps). What I can say is that we will not publish these maps until the adaptation strategies are in place.'For a full report on coastal management in the UK see this week's NCE magazine