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Regional impacts on coastal erosion
 

Regional | Sub-regional | Local detail

For an overview of the impacts on coastal erosion for your local area please select from the list below.

Alnwick District Council
Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council
Blyth Valley Borough Council
Castle Morpeth Council
Easington District
Hartlepool Borough Council
North Tyneside Council
Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
South Tyneside Council
Sunderland City Council
Wansbeck District Council

 

Alnwick District Council

Description
Alnwick has a ‘main' coastline of 33km, extending from Beadnell Bay to Druridge Bay. It is intersected by the River Aln estuary and the River Coquet estuary and several small drainage channels. 

In addition, the shores of the uninhabited Coquet Island fall within this frontage.

 

Vulnerability
This coastline is mostly vulnerable to seasonal variability in the dunes and beaches driven by wave energy, landward migration of these features with sea level rise and sea cliff recession due to wave energy at the toe.

 

Impact
Sea level rise will lead to landward migration of the beach and dune systems, leading to threats to the promenade in the northern most part of the Bay and to the Links Road which runs along the back of the dunes. Increased erosion of the dunes could lead to breaching which would cause tidal flooding to parts of the town.

Increased wave energy acting at the cliff toe will lead to greater energy on the existing structures (where present) and cliffs, increasing erosion rates.

Rising temperatures will also result in more amenity use of the beach.
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Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council 

Description
Berwick has a ‘main' coastline of 67km, extending from Marshall Meadows to Beadnell Bay. It is intersected by the mouth of the River Tweed estuary and by the wide shallow Budle Bay. 

In addition, the shores of Holy Island and the uninhabited Farne Islands fall within this frontage.

The coastline can be sub-divided as follows:

  • Marshall Meadows to River Tweed - a section of hard rock cliff fronted by rock shore platform. There are a few defences to protect locally against erosion.  The hinterland is largely agricultural
  • Spittal to Cocklawburn - initially a defended coastal margin close to the mouth of the Tweed, rising to undefended cliffs fronted by a rock shore platform. Development extends up to the coastal margin in Spittal and the East Coast Main Line runs very close to the cliffline in places. Elsewhere the land is mainly used for agriculture
  • Cheswick and Goswick to Budle Bay - extensive links and dunes with fronting beaches and wide tidal sand flats, extending seawards to meet Holy Island, with tidal mud flats and small areas of salt marsh in the sheltered areas in the lee of Holy Island across Fenham Flats. The South Low and Black Low channels drain across the sand flats to discharge into the main channel of Lindisfarne Harbour. Further south the links, dunes and beaches of Ross Back Sands merge into sand flats of Budle Bay, which also has tidal mud flats and salt marshes in sheltered areas and contains the Budle Water drainage channel.
  • Bamburgh to Beadnell Bay - an alternating sequence of wide dunes with fronting beaches and shore platforms with backing cliffs and slopes. Occasional burns drain across the foreshore and at Seahouses there is North Sunderland harbour.

 


Vulnerability
This frontage is particularly susceptible to landward migration of beach and dune systems associated with sea level rise and changes in river flow altering the complex behaviour of the River Tweed estuary.

 

Impact
Depending on recession rates, there could be the threat of erosion compromising the East Coast Main Line in the longer-term. 

With increased winter rainfall, there will be more energy discharged through the River Tweed. This will result in more debris, such as blown trees and, occasionally, dead sheep from rural upstream areas, coming down-river and being deposited on the Spittal beaches, with the associated increased costs for clearing the debris borne by the local authority.

With rising sea levels, there will be greater potential for waves overtopping existing coastal defences causing localised flooding to promenades.

With rising sea levels, the window of opportunity for crossing the causeway to Holy Island will be reduced, leading to more visitors becoming stranded or attempting to ‘race the tide' when it is unsafe to do so. Also, the low lying areas such as near Beal will be at increased risk of tidal flooding.

Also with sea level rise, the beaches and dunes will experience landward migration to maintain their position in the tidal frame.  In most sections of coast there is sufficient accommodation space to allow this process without too much impact on human uses (much of the coast is rural), but particularly susceptible areas will be where roads run close to the coastal margin. 

As this process happens, there will be movement of beach materials, leading to occasional exposure of ordnance north of the Holy Island causeway.

There will be greater energy impacts on maritime structures, such as at Seahouses harbour, leading to deterioration in condition.

Coastline recession will lead to loss of parts of some caravan parks and golf courses.
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Blyth Valley Borough Council

Description
Blyth has a shoreline length of 8km, comprising a beach and sand dune system at Blyth South Beach and, after the channel of Holywell Dene at Seaton Sluice, a short length of cliffline with fronting rocky shore platform. In places, the cliffs have been defended by a seawall. 

 

Vulnerability
This coastline is mostly vulnerable to seasonal variability in the dunes and beaches driven by wave energy, landward migration of these features with sea level rise and sea cliff recession due to wave energy at the toe.

 

Impact
Sea level rise will lead to landward migration of the beach and dune systems, leading to threats to the promenade in the northern most part of the Bay and to the Links Road which runs along the back of the dunes.

Increased erosion of the dunes could lead to breaching which would cause tidal flooding to parts of the town.

Increased wave energy acting at the cliff toe will lead to greater energy on the existing structures (where present) and cliffs, increasing erosion rates.

Rising temperatures will also result in more amenity use of the beach.
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Castle Morpeth Council

Description
Castle Morpeth has a coastline of 12km, extending along Druridge Bay and on to Lynemouth. 

The large sweeping form of Druridge Bay is the predominant feature, comprising a dune and links system with wide fronting beaches. 

At Creswell, towards the southern end, rock platforms outcrop on the foreshore and the land elevation rises, merging in to the Lynemouth frontage, which is artificially formed from colliery spoil and extends across to the Wansbeck frontage, where it is discussed in more detail. 

 

Vulnerability
The sediment exchange between the dunes and beaches in Druridge Bay is very active and key vulnerabilities are changes in wave activity, sea level and the wind regime.

 

Impact
With sea level rise, the beaches and dunes within Druridge Bay will migrate landwards. 

Since the coastline is largely undeveloped, there is sufficient accommodation space to allow this natural process, although locally there may be some threats to particular car parks or lakes situated at the landward limit of the links.
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Easington District

Description
Easington comprises 18km of coastline, extending from Ryhope Dene to Crimdon. 

It is a predominantly undefended stretch that historically has been much affected by colliery waste tipping onto the foreshore. 

It is characterised by sea cliffs that are intersected by small coastal streams or vegetated hanging valleys throughout the frontage, including Ryhope Dene, Seaham Dene, Dawdon Dene, Hawthorne Burn, Horden Burn, Warren House Gill, Ash Gill, Whitesides Gill, Blackhill Gill, Limekiln Gill, Castle Eden Dene, Blue House Gill and Crimdon Beck. 

The coastline can be sub-divided as follows:

  • Ryhope Dene to Seaham Harbour - This section of frontage is part of a larger-scale ‘embayment' that extends between Hendon (in Sunderland) and Seaham Harbour. Along this larger-scale frontage, important rock headlands are present at Salterfen Rocks and Pincushion Rocks (both in Sunderland) and to a lesser extent Featherbed Rocks, just north of Seaham Harbour. The toe of the cliffs is protected by a seawall and promenade and at the southern end by a rock revetment
  • Seaham Harbour to Chourdon Point - The northern part of this frontage has defences around the harbour and then a rock revetment running south. The revetment protects land created by areas of mining waste infill. South of here to Chourdon Point, the coast is undefended and comprises mining waste which forms a wide foreshore at Blast Beach
  • Chourdon Point to Blackhall Rocks - this frontage has been heavily influenced by colliery waste tipping
  • Blackhall Rocks to Crimdon Beck - well vegetated cliff line dropping into a wide sandy beach backed by dunes
     

Aside from the port and town of Seaham, the coast is relatively undeveloped and few man-made defences are present. The now-ceased colliery waste tipping historically helped defend the cliffs by ‘replenishing' the fronting beaches.

 

Vulnerability
Generally throughout this frontage, the coastline is vulnerable to marine erosion removing beach sediments (spoil from former collieries) due to waves and tides and subsequent re-activation of recession processes on the sea cliffs. 

The vulnerability of the cliffs remains low, however, due to their relatively resistant geology.

At a more local scale, the beaches adjacent to the numerous becks and coastal streams that discharge into the North Sea may become affected by increased flows through these small watercourses at particularly wet times of the year (e.g. in winter or during intense rainfall events).

 

Impact
The beach in front of the north promenade at Seaham will be impacted over the longer-term, giving rise to increased pressure on the existing structures, which are important in protecting the existing assets of the town against erosion. This will be combined with increased loading on the structures due to sea level rise and wave activity, processes which will also apply to the Seaham Harbour piers.

Sea level rise and wave activity will cause increased erosional pressure at Noses Point, near to Dawdon, where the land comprises waste in-fill. 

If proven to contain potentially hazardous material, this will lead to environmental pollution and public health and safety concerns of a serious nature. 

Similarly, the railway line, which comes close to the cliff edge at Hawthorne Hive and Shippersea Bay, will become increasingly threatened by sea cliff erosion. 

Elsewhere along the frontage, the remaining colliery waste will progressively be transported from the foreshore, reducing the degree of protection provided to the backing sea cliffs (or, further south, the dunes) which, when combined with sea level rise, will lead to increased recession rates of the coastline by the 2050s.

The recession will, however, remain relatively slow-rate since the coastline extending southwards to, and including, Blackhall Rocks is composed of relatively erosion-resistant Magnesian Limestone.

Also, the erosion will not prove too problematic in this section as there are presently few assets at risk due to the largely natural (or semi-natural) character of the coastline.

Further south, however, there will be continued land loss to the Crimdon Caravan Park and by the 2050s the coastal Car Park will be threatened.

Increased rainfall, such as that projected for the winter by the 2050s, will increase the volatility in position of the outfall channel of Crimdon Beck. 

When the channel is forced in a south-easterly alignment, the exposure to the Hart Warren dunes complex (in Hartlepool) will increase, leading to local erosion.
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Hartlepool Borough Council

Description
Hartlepool comprises 16km of coastline, extending from Crimdon Beck to Tees Mouth, incorporating The Heugh headland, Victoria Harbour, Hartlepool Marina and the northern section of Tees Bay encompassing Seaton Carew. 

The coastline can be sub-divided as follows:

  • Crimdon Beck to Hart Warren - wide sandy beach fronting a large and high dune complex.  The area is used as a Golf Course and for agriculture
  • North Sands - a sandy dune coastal slope overlying made ground. There is the Britmag works, Spion Kop cemetery and Spion Kop industrial works and warehousing located at the coastal margin. The foreshore acts as a sediment sink, helped by the presence of numerous pipelines and a long pier extending across the foreshore.
  • The Heugh Headland - high sea cliffs with fronting rocky foreshore supporting a large residential area. The cliffs are protected by defences constructed directly on the rock scar and the Heugh Breakwater provides shelter to Victoria Harbour.  Houses and roads are constructed abuting the coastal margin.
  • Hartlepool - vertical quayside walls of Victoria Habrour and Hartlepool Marina with piers at their mouths, separated by a mixed foreshore. Extending south to Seaton Carew is a wide sandy foreshore backed by a highly developed coastal margin, with numerous assets at risk of erosion and flooding due to overtopping, including residential areas, the A178 road and the railway line. The offshore rock outcrop of Long Scar provides shelter to the shore in its lee.
  • Seaton Carew - this frontage extends from Little Scar to the North Gare breakwater and comprises a wide sandy beach backed by dunes that have been developed upon across in the northern section (Seaton Carew) and remain natural further south. 

 

Vulnerability
The coastline is vulnerable to erosion by waves and tides along North Sand and The Heugh, flooding due to sea water overtopping in Hartlepool and landward migration of dunes due to sea level rise at Seaton Carew. At a more local level, the dunes adjacent to Crimdon Beck are vulnerable to changes in alignment of the outfall channel.

 

Impact
Increased rainfall, such as that projected for the winter by the 2050s, will increase the volatility in position of the outfall channel of Crimdon Beck. When the channel is forced in a south-easterly alignment, the exposure to the western edge of the Hart Warren dunes complex will increase, leading to local erosion. Elsewhere along Hart Warren dunes, the coastline will migrate landwards under sea level rise and this could result in some land loss to the Golf Course.

The coast along North Sands will continue to erode landwards under sea level rise, but projections suggest that this will not necessarily be at a great rate, with about 50m recession expected over the next 100 years. This is largely because the area will continue to act as a local sink for sediments. Nonetheless, this will result in some loss of dunes and where this fronts Spion Kop Cemetery and industrial area in particular pressure will result.

At present, Hartlepool Bay and Tees Bay both also act as a significant sediment sink, meaning that wide sandy beaches help with protection to the towns of Hartlepool and Seaton Carew. This status will remain in the 2050s despite the climate change projections, but pressure on existing defences will progressively increase. This will be in the form of increased loading forces, increased volatility of sediments on fronting beaches and increased overtopping by waves, leading to sea flooding of low-lying areas.

At Seaton Carew, the dunes are likely to experience landward migration with sea level rise. 

In the southern section there is sufficient width to accommodate such processes, but in the north, the process will be constrained to an extent by the town's infrastructure. 
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North Tyneside Council

Description
North Tyneside has 9km of coastline, extending from Hartley to Tynemouth at the north bank of the River Tyne estuary. 

The coastline can be sub-divided as follows:

  • St Mary's Headland - cliffs and rocky shore platform, backed by a nature reserve and with St Mary's lighthouse linked to the shore by a short tidally-influenced causeway.
  • Whitley Bay, Cullercoats Bay, Tynemouth Longsands and King Edward's Bay - heavily developed urban areas, with cliffs and dunes fronted by sandy beaches and exposed rocky shore platforms. All bays are heavily defended by coast protection structures and the dunes are managed using ‘soft' techniques such as vegetation planting and pedestrian access management.


Vulnerability
This coastline will be vulnerable to landward migration of beaches and dunes due to sea level rise and sea cliff recession due to greater wave energy impacting at the toe.

 

Impact
Areas of undefended coastal cliff will erode at an accelerated rate due to sea level rise, leading to some loss of land and amenity (such as the Whitley Sands Pitch and Put Course).

In defended areas, which constitute a large percentage length of this frontage, there will be increased energy impacting on the defences and causing increased mobilisation of beach sediments. This will lead to increased tendencies for wave overtopping, beach lowering at the toe of structures, undermining of structures and general structural deterioration. 

In areas where the beaches and dunes are not separated by defence structures, such as Tynemouth Longsands, there will be a tendency for increased landward migration of these features in response to rising sea levels. This will lead to problems for the backing coast road.

Rising temperatures will also lead to increased tourism use of the beaches and increases in visitor numbers, leading to increased pedestrian trampling of the dunes.
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Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council

Description
Redcar & Cleveland comprises 29km of coastline, extending from Tees Mouth to Staithes, including the coastal towns of Redcar, Marske-by-the-Sea and Saltburn-by-the-Sea. 

The coastline is intersected by Long Beck, Agar's Gap, Skelton Beck/Saltburn Gill, Skinningrove Beck and Staithes Beck and can be sub-divided as follows:

  • Coatham Sands - this frontage extends from the South Gare breakwater to Coatham and comprises a wide sandy beach backed by dunes. At the western end there are slag deposits named the German Charlies, which afford some local shelter to the shore
  • Redcar - this is a headland formed by the presence of outcropping rocks on the foreshore (Coatham Rocks and Redcar Rocks). The town of Redcar abuts the coastline and the frontage is heavily defended, predominantly with concrete revetments backed by low crest walls. The frontage along The Stray is also groyned
  • Marske to Saltburn - this frontage starts as a low vegetated till cliff rising to higher coastal slopes and then merging to the step cliffs fronting Saltburn Scar and the high cliffs at Huntcliff. It is fronted by the sandy beaches of Marske and Saltburn Sands over much of the length before being replaced by the rocky shore platform of Saltburn Scar in the east.  In places, there are substantial shingle or cobble berms at the upper beach. The frontage is intersected by Long Beck, Agar's Gap and Skelton Beck/Saltburn Gill.  Beyond the coastal towns of Marske-by-the-Sea and Saltburn-by-the-Sea, much of the frontage is backed by open recreational or agricultural land
  • Skinningrove - this comprises high coastal cliffs between Huntcliff and Hummersea, backing wide foreshore platforms.Skinningrove Beck intersects the cliff line as a narrow gorge falling to a slightly wider valley at the coast
  • Hummersea to Staithes - this frontage comprises high vertical or steeply sloping cliffs, overlain by tills, extending to Staithes Harbour. It is fronted by a near continuously exposed rock shore platform, with variable amounts of old landslide material and scree at the cliff toe. 

 

Vulnerability
The coastline is vulnerable to erosion by waves, tides and rising sea levels along Coatham Sands, flooding due to sea water overtopping in Redcar and loss of assets due to sea cliff recession or instability at various locations from Huntcliff to Cowbar.

 

Impact
The effectiveness of the German Charlies slag banks in attenuating incoming wave energy and protecting the shoreline close to the South Gare breakwater will reduce with sea level rise as the features become progressively more submerged. This could lead to the onset of erosion of the beaches and dunes at the western end of Coatham Sands. 

The Redcar Steel Works are located landward of Coatham Sands, but are separated from the shore by a width of some 400m of dunes. This will continue to provide a good degree of natural protection to the works up to the 2050s, even with predicted sea level rises and landward migration of the beach and dune system.

With eastward progression along Coatham Sands, the dunes narrow and the open ground and Cleveland Golf Club, together with the car park yet further east, are relatively close to the shore. These are backed by residential properties in Warrenby and Coatham. 

There remains a good width of protective beach and the greatest impact associated with climate change is likely to be associated with increased trampling across the dunes to access the beach from the car park associated with increased beach use during the projected rising temperatures. There will however, be some landward recession of the beach and dunes under rising sea levels.

With rising sea levels, the rock outcrops at Coatham Rocks and Redcar Rocks will become progressively more submerged and more energy will impinge on the shoreline defences at Redcar. Also, the headland will become more pronounced as the shoreline either side moves landwards with rising sea levels.

Previous investigations have revealed considerable risk of sea flooding due to wave overtopping at the eastern end of the Redcar frontage and work has been ongoing for a number of years to consider the best ways of managing this risk. 

In the absence of an appropriate scheme, this risk would increase and overtopping flooding will become more frequent. 

Between Huntcliff and Skinningrove, the cliffs are subject to slumping and landsliding and the tendency for these events will increase with increased rainfall and increased toe erosion due to climate change. 

 A mineral rail link runs no more than 20m from the cliff edge at Huntcliff and this could be lost due to a single recessional landslip event, which could potentially occur within the next 50 years.

Due to the low-lying location of Skinningrove village it is vulnerable to flooding from both the beck and the sea. 

Deterioration of existing defences, together with climate changes of sea level rise, would results in increased risk of sea flooding. 

There are two properties close to the cliff edge at Boulby. These are likely to be lost due to the predicted erosion, including the effects of sea level rise, over the next 50 years. 

Parts of Cowbar Lane, which runs off from the A174 Easington to Staithes road, will also be lost to the projected cliff recession over the next 50 years. 
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South Tyneside Council

Description
South Tyneside has a coastline length of approximately 10km, extending from the mouth of the River Tyne southwards to Whitburn. 

Along this section, the coastline is characterised by sand beaches and dunes near the River Tyne estuary and Magnesian Limestone sea cliffs and rocky shore platforms further south. 

Most of the cliff-top assets are set-back from the coastal margin, but the A183 Coast Road comes close to the cliff top in Marsden Bay. 

Also, numerous amusements, cafes and other family attractions are located along the promenade between Gypsy's Green and the mouth of the River Tyne. 

The coastline can be sub-divided as follows:

  • Littlehaven - a sand beach extending between the South Groyne and the South Pier, backed by dunes upon which some development has occurred. There is a seawall that protrudes seawards to intercept the high water mark.
    Herd Sands - the wide sandy beach that extends between South Pier and Trow Point, backed by dunes upon which some development has occurred. A promenade runs the entire frontage length.
  • Trow Quarry - a former limestone quarry that comprises waste-filled embayments extending between the hard rock headlands of Trow Point, Target Rock and Frenchman's Point.  The embayed coastal margin is presently undefended and actively eroding although a scheme is being designed to address the erosion problem.  The hard rock headlands are characterised by occasional rock falls.
  • Frenchman's Bay - comprising undefended hard rock cliff and shore platform. The cliffs are characterised by occasional rock falls.
  • Marsden Bay - a deep and long bay with sand-covered rock platforms beneath limestone cliffs. There is a short length of wall in front of the Grotto public house, but otherwise the cliffs are largely undefended. An offshore stack, Marsden Rock, exists midway along the frontage. This was formerly a rock arch but was collapsed through a controlled explosion to safeguard public safety. The cliffs are characterised by occasional rock falls.
  • Lizard Point - comprising undefended hard rock cliff and shore platform. The cliffs are characterised by occasional rock falls.
  • Old Harbour Quarry (Whitburn Coastal Park) - low cliffs, quite deeply indented with small pocket beaches, and with caves formed at their base. The cliffs are characterised by occasional rock falls.
  • Whitburn - undefended hard rock cliff with a capping of glacial till. The cliffs are characterised by occasional rock falls.
    Littlehaven and Herd Sands are popular areas for tourism and a wide range of recreation activities, whilst south of Trow Quarry the coast becomes more renowned for its natural attributes.

 

Vulnerability
This section of coastline is vulnerable to marine erosion due to waves and tides and weathering due to rainfall and freeze-thaw cycles.

 

Impact
The seawall at Littlehaven will become severely affected by wave activity by the 2050s because sea level rise will result in deeper water at the structure's toe during high tides and therefore greater wave loading on the structure and more wave overtopping of its crest. 

These processes combined will lead to increased flooding of an area scheduled for redevelopment and will result in progressive structural deterioration of the seawall. 

There will also be more beach lowering in front of the structure as the increased wave energy is reflected downwards, causing localised scour of beach sediments and undermining of the foundations. 

The beach and dunes at Herd Sands will continue to provide a good natural form of defence against waves overtopping the promenade, but they will need to be regularly monitored for performance. 

With rising sea levels, the landward roll-back of the beaches and dunes will be inhibited by the promenade and mean high water will come close to intercepting this structure by the lifeguard station and Gypsie's Green sports ground, leading to structural damage and wave overtopping. 

At Trow Quarry, the rising sea levels will mean that there are more occurrences of erosion events in the embayments that extend between the hard rock headlands. This will result in increased release of the waste presently infilling the quarry, which is known to contain some industrial materials. 

The remainder of the South Tyneside frontage will be most impacted by sea level rise, leading to marginally increased recession of the hard rock cliffs.  More important, however, will be the increase in cave excavation at the base of some cliffs, particularly at Old Harbour Quarry which is also known to contain former industrial waste material that will start to be eroded.
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Sunderland City Council

Description
Sunderland has a coastline length of approximately 11km, extending from Whitburn to Ryhope Dene.

Along this section, the coastline is intersected by the mouth of the River Wear estuary and its associated ebb-tide delta deposits of sand and mud. 

It can generally be characterised by sea cliffs of Magnesian Limestone with a fronting rock platform and, in places, a foreshore variously consisting of sand, pebbles, cobbles or boulders. 

The coastal frontage comprises some sections of undefended sea cliff, but in the main is defended by a sequence of seawalls, revetments, groynes, and harbour piers. The majority of these were constructed between the 1930s and 1950s, although some are of more recent origin.  The small coastal stream of Ryhope Dene discharges into the North Sea at the southern end of this frontage. 

The coastline can be sub-divided as follows:

  • Whitburn Bay (north) - sand dunes with a foreshore predominantly composed of sand overlying clays and rock, with a narrow strip of upper sand beach backed by seawalls, a promenade and a sloping bank to the main A183 Coast Road.
    Parson's Rock - a cliffed rock headland, fronted by a rock platform and defended with a seawall.
  • Whitburn Bay (south) - sea cliffs of a near-vertical profile in the north, with gradual progression towards a gentler coastal slope in the south, near Roker Pier. The foreshore is composed of sand, and the most extensive beach is present towards Roker Pier. The entire frontage is protected by seawalls and a promenade.
  • Port of Sunderland - comprising the mouth of the River Wear and Hudson Dock. The main harbour entrance is between the sweeping arms of Roker Pier in the north and New South Pier in the south. Both of these structures extend out some 800m beyond the principal alignment of the coast. Within the shelter of these piers, the entrance to the river is defined between the North Pier and the Old South Breakwater. The north dock area is now developed with residential properties and development associated with the North Dock Marina. Seaward of this development (still within the enclosure of the main piers) is an area of sand beach, backed by a seawall and rock revetment. The southern side of the mouth is occupied by the area of core port activity, with this extending some 1.5km along either side of Hudson Dock. At the northern end of this, within the shelter of the main piers, is a relatively new development of warehousing important to the modernisation of the port. This is protected on its seaward face by revetment and seawalls. There is again an area of sand and shingle foreshore trapped between these defences and New South Pier.  South of New South Pier, various seawall, pier and revetment defences protect an area of old docklands, now generally open land.  These defences, built apparently over the earlier River Wear ebb-tide delta, now form a barrier between the sea and the Hudson Dock, and extend south towards Hendon, protecting features such as a refuse tip and a major sewage treatment works as well as considerable other industrial properties and facilities.
  • Hendon to Ryhope Dene - This section of frontage is part of a larger-scale ‘embayment' that extends between Hendon and Seaham Harbour (the latter being located with Easington). Along this frontage, important rock headlands are present at both Salterfen Rocks and Pincushion Rocks (and to a lesser extent Fetherbed Rocks, just north of Seaham Harbour, again in Easington). These rock headlands are features which control the formation of small embayments along the shoreline in between. The initial length of frontage, south of Sunderland to Salterfen Rocks, comprises a major defence of rock revetment and groynes, backed by a concrete seawall and promenade, raising to the rear with a coastal slope. To the crest of this slope is the main railway spur to the docks, with residential property and commercial / industrial areas behind, including Hendon Treatment Works. South of Salterfen Rocks, undefended natural cliff exposures of Magnesian Limestone are present. These are overlain by varying thicknesses of eroding glacial till. Between Salterfen Rocks and Pincushion Rocks, there is a greater punctuation of the coast, with narrow sections of harder material locally resisting erosion.

 

Vulnerability
This section of coastline is vulnerable to marine erosion due to waves and tides and weathering due to rainfall and freeze-thaw cycles.

 

Impact
All of the coastal defences will, by the 2050s, experience greater loading forces, possibly at higher frequencies of occurrence, than at present. This is due to: (i) sea levels being higher, causing greater tidal loading; (ii) wave forces being greater because of sea level rise (less dissipation of wave energy before it reaches the shore); and (iii) increases in surge activity. 

This is likely to lead to increased structural damage and the need for enhanced maintenance commitments by the 2050s compared to present.  At this time, many of the coastal defences will be over, or approaching, 100 years old. 

This, combined with the effects of climate change, means that some structural upgrades and replacements will be needed.

The increased sea levels and wave and surge activity will also lead to increased overtopping of coastal defences as the ‘standard of protection' that they provide will effectively have decreased. This is because the defence crest level remains static whilst the extreme sea level is rising.

Furthermore, some areas of the frontage will experience increased beach lowering and/or erosion of foreshore material due to these climate change effects.

Areas identified as being particularly vulnerable to the above effects are:

  • South Bents to Roker Pier - There will be increased potential for overtopping along the whole frontage. This would affect the promenade, road and properties causing localised tidal flooding more frequently than at present.
  • Just North of Parson's Rock - Beach sediment will be eroded more readily due to an area of high wave energy, which will become more severe with climate change.
  • Just to the South of Parson's Rock - Wave reflection off Roker Pier will become greater with climate change, and this will exacerbate beach sediment erosion.

With ongoing beach lowering and sea level rise, there would be the need for a future commitment to increasing crest levels to address the worsening overtopping.

Around Sunderland Port and the Hendon sea wall, continued defence will become increasingly difficult, but is unlikely to become unsustainable due to the nature and value of the assets protected. 

All of the coastal defence structures along the frontage were designed to withstand certain wave and tidal loading conditions.  All of the structures are likely to have been designed conservatively, with associated factors of safety. This means that it is unlikely that any of the defences would fail entirely by the 2050s due to the direct effects of climate change alone. More importantly, the increased loading may cause more frequent minor damage which will need to be repaired. 

The absence of appropriate maintenance could lead to ultimate failure of structures due to repeated ‘minor' damage.

Erosion of the cliffs at Halliwell Bank near Ryhope will lead to increased risk of release of material from a former land-fill, causing public health and safety and environmental concerns. The composite nature of these cliffs makes them susceptible not only to changes in sea level and wave energy, but also sub-aerial weathering and landslip during heavy rainfall.
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Wansbeck District Council

Description
Wansbeck has a coastline of 11km, extending from Lynemouth to North Blyth. 

It is intersected along its length by the River Wansbeck estuary and the frontage ends at the mouth of the River Blyth estuary. 

The coastline can be sub-divided as follows:

  • Lynemouth - a bay extending between the hard rock headlands of Snab Point (in Castle Morpeth) and Beacon Point. The shoreline is formed of colliery spoil and the frontage has recently been defended by a rock revetment scheme to protect the Alcan Power Station against erosion
  • Beacon Point to Newbiggin Point - a headland fronted by a rocky shore platform
    Newbiggin Bay - extending between Newbiggin Point and Spital Point and backed by extensive development of the coastal town of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. The area is heavily defended but mining-related sub-sea subsidence has led to continuing reductions in beach levels. A recently-completed coastal defence scheme is intended to address this problem
  • Cambois Bay - comprising soft cliffs fronted by sand beaches, intersected by the River Wansbeck estuary and grading into a dune and link system at the southern end before reaching the East Pier of Blyth harbour, which is fronted by a rocky shore platform
     

 

Vulnerability
This coastline will be vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise, leading to increased energy acting at the shoreline and eroding the coastal margin.

 

Impact
At Lynemouth, the recently completed rock revetment will be effective in fixing the shoreline against ongoing wave erosion of the colliery spoil and therefore will safeguard the Alcan Power Station, although it will be important to monitor the shore and inspect the defences for signs of outflanking as the coast to either side of the defended stretch will continue to erode.

At Newbiggin Bay, the recently completed coastal defence scheme involved the placement of sand during beach nourishment operations. 

With increasing sea levels, this material will be transported offshore and alongshore over time, resulting in progressively reducing beach levels and increasing risk of defence toe undermining and wave overtopping, resulting in defence failure and/or sea flooding of properties in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.

Changing rainfall patterns and rising sea levels will also change the natural dynamics at the mouth of the River Wansbeck estuary. 

Changing alignment in the channel and changing beach levels will lead to changing exposure conditions along the adjacent coastal cliffs. 

Increased exposure of these features will lead to accelerated rates of recession and ultimately threats to Sandy Bay Caravan Park on the northern side of the estuary and Cambois House and the nearby small settlement on the southern side.

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