Beach Reclamation

Hayling Island, Hampshire (c) Dave White

Britain from the Air - Beach Reclamation

Fighting the forces of nature

The south coast of England is blessed with soft sandy beaches but many, like at Hayling Island in the image above, are under threat from the waves. 

Bournemouth beach is another such battleground, with the Environment Agency and the local council allied in fighting the forces of nature. A popular tourist destination, Bournemouth's beaches attract millions of visitors every year and bring much-needed money into the local economy. Naturally the council is keen to keep the beaches in good order and protect them from erosion. 

Harsh winter waves though can remove large quantities of sand from the beach. During the winter storms of early 2013 a decade's worth of erosion occurred in just 2 months.

The solution is to replenish the sand physically in time for the summer season. Sand is dredged from Poole Harbour and pumped back on to the beaches at Poole, Bournemouth and Swanage in an expensive process known as 'beach recharging'.

The future

The Environment Agency estimates that more than a quarter of our coastlines suffer erosion of more than 10cm a year, with some areas losing close to 2m a year to the sea. Met Office predictions indicate that sea level may rise up to 2m by the year 2100, making more of our coastline vulnerable to the erosive power of the waves and currents.

Trying to put a figure on erosion is fraught with problems. But a recent Government report predicts that under current climatic conditions parts of the coastlines of England and Wales could experience around 45m of erosion by the end of the century. The effects of uncontrolled climate change could push this figure up to more than 150m.


Click to reveal the full picture

  • share
Location: Bournemouth beach, Dorset BH2 5AA
Grid reference: SZ 08863 90655

Britain from the Air - Beach Reclamation credits

Thank you to -

David White for aerial photography

Text researched and written by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

By 2050 the coastal population of the UK is estimated to double as more people retire to enjoy living by the sea.