Understanding perceived effectiveness of a novel coastal management project: The case of the Bacton-Walcott sandscaping scheme, UK

13th February 2023

Adaptation at actively receding coastal areas requires swift and long-term solutions that build resilience for both people and the environment. Nature-based solutions are increasingly being promoted over hard defences, but there is a lack of empirical research on the effectiveness of novel approaches, including those deployed at different scales. Sandscaping, a one-off large-scale deposition of sand (1.8 M m3) on a beach frontage, was implemented for the first time in the UK at a section of beach between Bacton and Walcott villages, in North Norfolk, in 2019. This talk presents findings on the perceived effectiveness and impacts of sandscaping on coastal residents, by eliciting views of residents in the two closest villages to the scheme, and comparing findings to geomorphological observations (using LiDAR data). Results reveal wide differences in perceptions, and notable levels of doubt, on the ‘effectiveness’ of sandscaping at present and in the future, alongside different lived experiences of the scheme and prevailing distrust by some residents about coastal management. Keeping residents updated on changes to sandscaping with environmental data and communicating the advantages of nature-based solutions appear relevant in this context, but the diversity and contrast of resident perceptions illustrates deeper challenges for future coastal management planning.