SC090036 - Decision Support for Coastal and Estuarine Planning

Theme:Policy, Strategy & Investment
Project status:Underway
Start date:07/12/2009
End date:30/09/2017
  • coastal zone management,
  • geomorphology,
  • Flood Defence,
  • Climate Change,
  • Erosion,
  • adaptive capacity
  • Halcrow Water


Through this project we developed a programme of research that will improve our ability to predict long-term and regional-scale change on the coast and to help us to better plan for, invest in and maintain defences against coastal erosion.

As a result of the work we now have a collaboration with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) on the Coastal Sediment Systems Research Programme to develop a computer modelling framework which will allow the quantitative modelling of priority coastal landforms (such as saltmarsh, mudflats, beaches and sandbanks) and their interactions. This ‘systems-based’ modelling framework will help us to manage flood and coastal erosion risk.

In collaboration with NERC an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) was devised to procure, through competitive tender, a four-year, £3 million systems-based research programme with five main deliverables. These are:

Deliverable 1: Systems modelling framework - improving sediment pathway models across coupled systems over decades to centuries and at regional (10-100s km) scales.

Deliverable 2: Development of behavioural geomorphic modules – development of intermediate-complexity behavioural models of key coastal geomorphological features. 

Deliverable 3: Application – ensuring exploration of coastal sensitivities.

Deliverable 4: Dissemination – preparing for uptake and use of the tools generated. 

Deliverable 5: Embedding – Environment Agency activities to ensure that the research is applied within planning studies.

The Coastal Sediment Systems Research Programme runs between 2011 and 2015.  It will be administered by NERC with the Environment Agency playing a key role in programme governance. On completion of the work the Environment Agency will integrate the research outcomes into its operational practices.

In developing this collaborative project with NERC, our FCERM R&D Programme commissioned Halcrow to further explore the need for research and the status of predictive tools as part of identifying research priorities. These findings are fully reported in the SC090036 – Coastal Estuarine Systems Tools (CoaEST) Inception Report.  

The report presents a review of the current ‘state of the art’ in geomorphologicial assessment at the coast whilst identifying key gaps in our predictive tool set. The report will be of most interest to researchers who are considering taking part in the research programme, and coastal practitioners who have a role in developing coastal planning studies and who may use the research outcomes, including local authorities, coastal groups and other coastal organisations. 

The report is available on request from