Making Space for Sand

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Coastal sand dunes (known in Cornwall as “towans”) are an important part of our natural sea defences but they are highly dynamic and mobile systems that are constantly on the move. They can change quickly in response to individual storms but there are also longer-term climatic trends at work.

In Cornwall many of these systems are eroding leading to potentially dangerous cliffing whilst in other areas along our coast sand dunes are growing larger (known as “accretion”) which can cause problems as they migrate inland. This can impact properties and critical infrastructure or reduce access to communities.

To manage existing

Coastal sand dunes (known in Cornwall as “towans”) are an important part of our natural sea defences but they are highly dynamic and mobile systems that are constantly on the move. They can change quickly in response to individual storms but there are also longer-term climatic trends at work.

In Cornwall many of these systems are eroding leading to potentially dangerous cliffing whilst in other areas along our coast sand dunes are growing larger (known as “accretion”) which can cause problems as they migrate inland. This can impact properties and critical infrastructure or reduce access to communities.

To manage existing and future erosion and sea flooding risk and ensure the sustainability of our coastal communities, it is important that we have strategies in place to sustain these valuable assets that allow them to develop naturally where possible or impose temporary artificial restraints when it is socially, environmentally and economically viable to do so.

To make our ambition of sustainable sand dune systems a reality, Cornwall Council sought funding from Defra under their Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme (FCRIP). We were successful and are now embarking on a 6 year project to bring about the changes needed to protect both our communities and our towans in a rapidly changing environment.

This Making Space for Sand project will look at various sites around the Cornish coast, with 40 locations initially identified for the project; all locations will receive some benefit, with 6 locations having more detailed investigation/action plans.

The project is broken down into 5 elements:

  1. Information – Assessing the baseline characteristics of each location
  2. Modelling – Looking at how action (or inaction) will impact these coastal areas
  3. Visualisation- Turning data into information to help aid public engagement
  4. Actions
    1. Short-term – actions to ensure readiness for today
    2. Medium-term – actions to enable adaptation for the future
    3. Long-term – strategies to ensure long-term sustainability
  5. Adaptation Planning – Helping communities to become designated Coastal Change Management Areas for the purpose of planning and to support Cornwall Council’s Climate Change and Coastal Adaptation Development Plan Document

Questions

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    What, please, is the current status of this project ? Thank you.

    Ian Day asked 27 days ago

    Dear Mr Day,

     Thank you for your enquiry regarding the Making Space for Sand project. Though the Council made an announcement last summer about the project being 1 of 25 that would be funded through the EA/Defra Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme, this represented the start of the projects development. The Council, with support from project partners, has spent the time between then and now recruiting a small team, who with support from project partners have developed the business case for the project. The business case is currently undergoing assessment by both the EA/Defra and Cornwall Council, which will hopefully enable the project to enter its delivery phase in the very near future.

     Yours Sincerely 

     Jolyon Sharpe,

    Programme Manager: Making Space for Sand (Ow kul spas rag tewes)

    Cornwall Council, Environment Service

    Email: jolyon.sharpe@cornwall.gov.uk, Mobile: 07974 916505

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    When do we started to see updates on this project please?

    11 months ago

    Thank you for your question. It may seem that not much is happening but a lot is going on behind the scenes. We have to set out in detail our project and spending plans and get our approach approved by Defra by April 2022. While we are working on this, we are also compiling a lot of baseline information on each of our 40 initial locations. We will publish the information we have on this site and then invite comments from the public, and partners to correct or add to what we know. In particular we will be looking for local knowledge such as on the history of each site and memories and photographs of how they used to be. We are currently working through walk-over surveys of each location and planning our initial ecological surveys and assessments and identifying landowners and other stakeholders.

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    Hi there, sounds like a great project and I'm excited that Par Beach is included. I'm just wondering how this will link with the national Dynamic Dunescapes project that we're also hoping to get on board with? Cornwall Wildlife Trust appear to be leading the Cornish involvement with that so guessing they will be involved with this project too? Many thanks Jenny

    Jenny Tagney asked about 1 year ago

    Dear Jenny

    Thank you for your question.  I can confirm that Cornwall Wildlife Trust are one of three main delivery partners we have on the project, the others being Plymouth Coastal Observatory and the University of Plymouth.  We will be using all available data from existing initiatives and linking, where possible, current or past activities to ensure we do not reinvent the wheel or duplicate effort.

Page last updated: 31 Jan 2022, 09:00 AM