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Several definitions are worth exploring in the context of this module:

1. The Coastal Area

In attempting to adopt a pragmatic rather than a generic definition of the coastal zone the UK Government (DoE,1993) proposed 'a three-tier approach to defining the coast, which recognised the importance of both the human and physical systems and the narrow zone in which the two systems interact to create coastal risks'.

This definition comprises:

An interactive zone

  • Human activities are influenced by or can influence the quality of the whole coastal area
  • Can extend as far inland or out to sea as necessary to control activities that have an impact on the coast, such as:
    • Polluting activities within a river catchment;
    • Visual intrusion from a developments offshore or on land;
    • Limits of potential disturbance to important terrestrial and marine habitats

Activities or development within this zone may have an effect on the ability of the coast to support other activities.

A dynamic zone

  • Directly affected by nearshore and offshore natural processes (e.g. storm surges);
  • Related to geomorphological and/or ecological criteria, such as:
    • Potential coastal cliff retreat over a specified period;
    • Seaward limit of offshore-onshore sediment transport.

Any development within this zone may affect the operation of coastal processes and hence, may lead to changes in coastal landforms.

A hazard zone

  • Landward area potentially susceptible to damage from coastal processes;
  • Damage may include potential loss of life as well as property damage.

Risks can be minimised by hazard management strategies such as engineering or planning approaches.


List the advantages of this approach:

2. Risk Assessment

In a 'Guide to Risk Assessment and Risk Management for Environmental Protection' (DoE, 1995), the UK Government drew on definitions of hazard, risk and risk assessment and management produced by the Royal Society (1992). These definitions are reiterated below:


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