Coastal defence research

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Plymouth University scientists are taking part in four-year project to investigate the potential of environmentally friendly technologies in the defence of the UK’s coastline.

Plymouth University scientists are to investigate how environmentally friendly defence technologies can be used to protect the UK’s coastline.

The four-year research project forms part of the €8m (£7.2m) THESEUS project, which will consider the defence of coastlines across the EU.

The UK research, led by Plymouth University, will focus on the coast between Plymouth and Exmouth in Devon. The aim is integrate engineering and ecological principles to develop coastal defence and flood management strategies.

Plymouth University researchers will model wave conditions from future climate scenarios and undertake studies on the vulnerability and resilience of coastal defences.

Prof Dominic Reeve from Plymouth University said: ‘We are very pleased to be part of the THESEUS consortium as this will allow us to extend the work on coastal flooding that we have undertaken as part of the EU’s recent FLOODsite project.

‘Reducing flood risk not only means understanding the nature of extreme storms but also being better prepared to respond to warnings and making changes to how we live in order to make our quality of life more resilient to flooding episodes. Our role in THESEUS will address these issues.’

The research will include the design of engineering structures to provide habitats for marine life as well as strategies to manage the natural flood defence provided by salt marshes and sand dunes.

Plymouth University’s Dr Richard Thompson explained: ‘This builds on our recent work that has shown on an experimental scale that small modifications to coastal defences can be used to increase biodiversity and to boost stocks of commercially important molluscs. This funding provides exciting opportunities to test these approaches on a much broader geographical scale.’

The main outputs from the project will be to create guidelines for the design of defence technologies, which will include example case study sites and an accompanying software tool.