Bad beach management: European perspectives

Andrew Cooper, G Anfuso, L Del Rio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The 100,000-km-long coastline of Europe has a long history of human occupationand intervention in coastal processes. Rapid coastal development that began inthe 1960s, however, has accelerated during the past decade with increased humanmobility and affl uence. This has had disastrous consequences for the European beachresource. Through a series of examples in the UK, Spain, and Italy, we show thatpoorly sited infrastructure is the primary reason for beach erosion problems, andthat decision-making in the area of beach management suffers inherent weaknesses;current practice concentrates on the symptoms (through coastal defense or nourishment)but has been unable to address the root cause (ill-planned development).Consequently, society has become locked into an open-ended series of ameliorativemeasures that, in turn, fuel ongoing development by removing the element of fi nancialrisk from coastal development. The scale of contemporary development on theEuropean coast means that the beach erosion problem will become more acute withtime, even without the anticipated large-scale coastal morphological adjustment tosea-level rise. Storms, tsunamis, and a reduction in sediment supply mean that existingcoastal infrastructure poses a long-term fi nancial liability. Eventually, the costsinvolved in continued defense may precipitate changes in public policy. There areindications of this happening, but in the meantime, development increases apace, notjust in Europe, but on adjacent Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts, to satisfy amainly European demand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-179
JournalGeological Society of America Special Paper
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Dec 2009


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