Managed realignment in practice in the UK: results from two independent surveys
This source preferred by Luciana Esteves
Authors: Esteves, L.S. and Thomas, K.
Editors: Green, A. and Cooper, J.A.G.
Journal: Journal of Coastal Research: an international forum for the littoral sciences
Shoreline Management Plans in England envisage implementation of managed realignment along 550 km or 10% of the coastline length by 2030. About 66 km of the coastline has been realigned between 1991 and the end of 2013. Therefore, an eight-fold increase in the length of realigned shorelines is expected in the next 20 years. It is now timely to gather and evaluate experiences and lessons learned from existing experience to inform future projects. This article presents results from two surveys concerning experiences and perceptions of managed realignment in the UK. The UK is often recognised as leading the implementation of managed realignment worldwide and it is anticipated that the national experience attracts great interest of international researchers and practitioners. Findings from a qualitative survey focusing on practitioners experience are contrasted by the results from a quantitative survey allowing comparison of practitioners’, consultants’, researchers’ and stakeholders’ views. Three key issues identified through the analysis of the responses are discussed in this article: (1) the multiple functions of realignment sites should be emphasised to increase buy-in from stakeholders; (2) working in partnership with relevant organisations and landowners from the inception of project planning is highly beneficial; and (3) knowledge has greatly advanced in many aspects, but improved understanding about the long-term evolution of sites is needed. Stakeholders’ views are considerably more negative about the outcomes of managed realignment, especially concerning flood risk management, when compared with other groups assessed here. Consultants’ and practitioners’ views are more positive, although many indicate results vary depending on the site and aspects being assessed. More than 60% of all groups agree that better understanding about long-term evolution of realigned sites is needed, especially sedimentation and biogeochemical processes. This study identifies aspects about which stakeholders’ views most differ from the practical knowledge gathered from consultants, practitioners and researchers. It is suggested here that improved practice and stakeholders engagement can be achieved by obtaining and disseminating quantifiable and reliable evidence of the multiple benefits offered by realigned sites. Although these findings reflect the UK experience, they are likely to be useful to inform future initiatives elsewhere.