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Why did the Azure Window collapse and how can we preserve coastal heritage?

Sink or swim?

December 2006

How is the UK's coastal environment and its management changing?

Sink or swim?

Britain’s coastline is under the spotlight again.

With concern growing over sea-level change, increasing rates of erosion and the threat to millions of homes, changes have occurred in how the coast is managed by the agencies responsible for its protection.

A recent newspaper article asked if the ‘only solution is to abandon the shore?’ (Guardian 09/10/06). But why is the coast under threat? What will be the approach of the new government agency Natural England (operational since Oct 2006) in the management of our coastline? How is the National Trust responding to the threats facing its coastal estates? And how are local communities dealing with the threat to their homes in some of England’s worst-hit areas?


This resource will have particular appeal for GCSE and A-level candidates who are studying coastal environments and environmental management. Each item deals with the challenges facing the UK coastline, and explores some of the management strategies that are being adopted.

Parts of this resource have been designed to support the teaching of geography at KS3, including:

  • How are coastal areas used by people? What conflicts of interest occur over the use of coastal areas and how can they be resolved?
  • How can coastal areas be managed? What are the effects of environmental planning and management on coastal landscapes and the people who use them?

In the Members' Area:

  • Under new management: who is “Natural England”?
  • Rising tides: why are sea levels rising?
  • Managed retreat: are we giving up or just getting real?
  • Shifting shores: what is the National Trust thinking?
  • No surrender: what are the costs and benefits at Fairlight?
  • Key Stage 3: suggestions for teachers
  • AS/A level: exam tips for students

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