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Essentially, however, the process of risk and hazard management can be either a technical linear exercise, which is essentially a scientific approach, or it can be achieved using a risk management cycle involving regular feedback on risk perception.

Kay and Alder (1999) illustrated the linear approach using the example of risk prevention as applied to the transportation of hazardous goods to UK ports. But determining tolerable levels of risk to society, rather than merely for one organisation or sector as in the ports example, is difficult because it demands not only scientific and technical assessment but also economic and ethical considerations. This requires communication between different groups and interests. The risk management cycle therefore incorporates risk perception and risk communication at its heart. Using this approach requires an early input of public opinion and constant feedback. Thus, for example, to work out the impacts of a storm surge on a coastal community, the views of those likely to be directly and indirectly affected should be sought and reflected in addition to any assessment of the capacity or resistance of the local coastal landforms.

Mitigating action must then be considered where hazards and risks have been identified as intolerable. Such risks can be avoided, reduced and/or accepted (tolerated despite the possible consequences). Coastal erosion hazard management, for example, has been incorporated within the shoreline management planning exercise undertaken for the coastline of England and Wales.


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