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Eroding beaches demand stronger defences

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COASTAL DEFENCES in the UK must be beefed up dramatically if Britain's coastline is to survive rising sea levels and climate change, government consultants warned last week.

Coastal defences will need higher crests, thicker armour and deeper foundations, said Halcrow technical director Kevin Burgess.

Burgess was speaking at the Department of the Environment & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) annual Flood & Coastal Management conference.

Climate change is forcing sea level rises which, coupled with a fall in the sea bed levels, means much bigger, more powerful waves, he said.

Consequently many beaches are developing a steeper profile as cohesive material like clay is eroded.

DEFRA's recent Futurecoast project revealed that 61% of the UK coastline is steepening (NCE 2 October 2003).

Burgess also urged planners to stop trying to maintain the status quo along the coastline.

'The fact is some of the beaches we have now won't be beaches in 2080, ' he said.

Beaches may be lost on the shores of the Solent, around the Thames Estuary, on the East Anglian coastline, the Holderness coastline in east Yorkshire and the south coast of Wales.

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