Does management affect coastal processes at Walton-on-the-Naze?

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Walton-on-the-Naze is a small retirement town, located near Colchester via the A133 with a population of 40,000. Run by tendering local authority it relies mostly on tourism economically, which is one of the reasons they have a coastal management scheme which has recently been extended to the north to protect the luxurious houses situated there.

In the course of this project I will be investigating the ways in which management has been used in Walton-on-the-Naze to prevent and encourage different coastal processes in order to stop the cliff retreating and then comparing this to the unprotected cliffs and beaches in Walton to find out if management truly does affect the coastal processes present there.  

Coastal processes affect our lives. Our families pay taxes to go towards coastal protection etc. which is essential for the whole town to function and benefit the whole community.

I have decided to study Walton-on-the-Naze for a number of reasons. Firstly it is the nearest place along the coast to Southend which has unprotected cliffs as well as protected ones. At Walton the geology is the same and the processes are very similar along with the protection. Also Walton is subjected to much more energy from the sea than Southend.

There are various ways the coast can be managed, firstly I will explain how the cliffs can be protected.

Cliffs are protected in two places, the cliff face and the cliff foot. Energy from the sea in the form of destructive waves can undercut the cliff over time, this causes a cliff collapse because the weight cannot be supported now undercutting has taken place. To combat this, at the cliff foot a sea wall may be built to act like a natural barrier against the sea, along with a revetment to further decrease the energy of the waves. Or groynes could be put in place to encourage a build up of sand and create a “beach.” This is why beaches are usually sloping towards the sea to make the waves break and decreases the energy they have. The incoming destructive waves break on the sand and cause a weak swash up the beach followed by a strong backwash which has more energy than the swash and ‘drags’ sand back down the beach, although this is partly complicated by prevailing winds and LSD which I will go on to explain further later on in this project. Also as waves undercut the cliff rubble collects at the foot of the cliff and acts like a natural barrier in some places, this can also be recreated by man by placing massive rocks and boulders at the foot of the cliffs to protect them, this is usually called rip-rap and is the cheapest and easiest method of management.

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On the cliff face Gabions can be put on which are basically mesh boxes to keep the rock in place and catch any loose rocks. Cliff ‘pinning’ is another way the rock can be kept in place. Vegetation may also be planted there to hold together the rock and prevent erosion, along with sculpturing and draining of the cliff face.

It is very important that these two areas are integrated, for you cannot only protect the cliff face and not ...

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