Protecting Scotland’s Coastline

Nearly a fifth of Scotland’s coastline is at risk of erosion, threatening some of the country’s most prized land and infrastructure within the next 30 years, the Scottish Government said in its latest release. 

The potentially devastating effects of climate change and coastal erosion came to light after experts from the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the University of Glasgow studied coastlines dating back to the 1890s, to plan for the future of Scotland’s coastal landscape.

The ‘Dynamic Coast: Scotland’s National Coastal Change Assessment’ (NCCA) tool uses more than 2,000 maps and one million data points to make its predictions. It identifies past erosion and growth rates, and projects the data forward to show the potential change to Scotland’s coastline.

Speaking at the launch of Dynamic Coast in St Andrews, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Since the 1970s the rates of coastal erosion has doubled, and that pace will not slow down anytime soon. In fact, it will probably get worse and faster.”

“The Dynamic Coast tool is a great new innovation that could help protect existing infrastructure and heritage sites from significant environmental change and damage.”

Prof Jim Hansom, Principal Researcher from the University of Glasgow, said: “Since the 1970s the extent of erosion is up 39%, the erosion rate has doubled and accretion extent (growth of sediment deposition) is down 22%. This is what we’d expect with climate change.”

“That means we are seeing a net loss of our coastline. The clock is ticking and we need to start adapting to avoid unnecessary costs.”

Background

The NCCA helps deliver actions in Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation Program by identifying the assets at risk if recent erosion rates continue.

It is led and managed by the Scottish Government and SNH and the research was carried out by the University of Glasgow.

The research is funded by CREW (The Centre for Expertise in Water).

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