Coastal Confilcts

The Coastal System

The coast is considered to be a system with inputs that are stored and outputs that are transferred. An example of something stored is sediment, this comes from rivers and weathered eroding cliffs. These stores of sediment are either beaches or sand dunes. The transfer of sediment is mainly the movement of sand and shingle along the coast by long shore drift, the loss of sediment from the coast to the open sea is an output.

When there is a balance between inputs and outputs, there is an equilibrium. But when inputs are greater then outputs this is a positive sediment budget. However when outputs exceed inputs this is a negative sediment budget.

Today coastal management is based on identifying coastal cells. These are sections of the coast which are self contained in terms of the movement of sediment – these coastal cells are systems. An important point is that equilibrium of costal coastal systems can easily be upset by a whole range of human activates which can seriously disrupt coastal ecosystems.

The Conflict Between Development and Conservation

All the threats considered in Coastal Ecosystems creates a specific conflict. Most of these conflicts are about human needs versus the well-being of ecosystems. These conflict raise the question should we protect and preserve an ecosystem or exploit the land for our selves?

Conflicts Between Coastal Users

There are various other conflicts not just between development and conservation but also between conflict over who will have and exploit the land. In many respects, these users are competing with each other because of their special needs.

The main users and there reason for the development of coastal areas are as follows:

  • Local Residents – good choices of housing; clean environment.
  • Employers – access to labour; space for shops, offices and factories.
  • Farmer – well-drained land; shelter from strong onshore winds.
  • Fishermen – harbours; unpolluted waters.
  • Port Authorities – harbours and space for port-side services and terminals such as ports and airports.
  • Transport Companies – good roads and terminal’s such as ports and airports.
  • Tourists – beaches, hotels, recreational amenities, heritage sites.
  • Developers – greenfield sites.

The growth of tourism is damaging and destroying the natural environment. Equally, there are developments taking place that are damaging tourism. For example inshore waters are being polluted by:

  • The ships serving the oil and gas terminals.
  • Discharges from industrial plants.
  • The run off of agricultural chemical into the sea.

The success of tourism depends on clean beaches and clear seas. So in terms of marine pollution, tourism is in conflict with at least three other activities. It is also in conflict with these same activities because:

  • They are all competing for coastal sites.
  • Upmarket hotel don’t want to be located close to an oil refinery or a power station. it would be bad for their image and their visitor appeal.

Case Study: Benidorm

Benidorm is a coastal town in Alicante, Spain, on the Western Mediterranean. Until the 1960s, Benidorm was a small fishing village; today it is known for its hotel industry, beaches and skyscrapers.


  • Is one of the most traditional sun and sand tourist destinations of the Mediterranean coast of Spain
  • Is a good example for studying the tourism phenomenon in Spain
  • Is a town with almost 80,000 inhabitants but 1,748,564 visitors and 10,495,788 overnight stays per year (data from 2012)
  • Is the place with the highest density of skyscrapers per inhabitant worldwide, and the second one after New York due to its number per square meter
  • Has the highest hotel in Europe Gran Hotel Bali

Case Study: Southampton Waters

Southampton a county in the south of England that has a leading port with great history. One of the attractions was that it was located at the head of a very sheltered and secure part of the south coast, Home to wildfowl and wetland birds because of its great habitats. Unfortunately these habitats have been reduced due to development.

Development has happened over the years because of all the wealth brought by the port, this has meant the affording of reclaiming mudflats which has benefited Southampton but this has taken away a habitat.

But this expansion and development was to open Southampton up more enabling cruise liners and other large ships. But this development went on beyond docks and enveloped oil refineries and fossil fuel power stations. But this expansion has stopped dead in some areas due to the efforts of nature conservation, also there are many salt marshes that have been reclaimed for natural reserves.

Case Study: Holderness Coast

Coast Holderness%20Map



Flamborough is the headland that forms the most northerly point of the Holderness Coast.


The most striking aspect of Flamborough is Flamborough Head and its white chalk cliffs that surround it. The chalk appears in distinct horizontal layers, formed from the remains of tiny sea creatures millions of years ago. Above the chalk at the top of the cliffs is a layer of till (glacial deposits) left behind by glaciers 18,000 years ago, during the ice age. As the cliffs below are worn away by the action of the waves, the clay soil often falls into the sea in large landslips.

Coastal Features

Selwicks Bay is the oldest bay at Flamborough and the location of Flamborough lighthouse. To the north of the bay is an arch and to the south you can see a stack, this is a clear sign of erosion.


Hornsea is the main settlement on the Holderness coasts. It has a population of around 8,500 and is an important holiday destination. Because it generates a large income through tourism, it was decided to protect Hornsea.


Hornsea is a small coastal town located on the centre of the coast line of the bay, between Bridlington and Withernsea along the Holderness Coast.


The compacted sediment around Hornsea lies on  unconsolidated till. This material was deposited by glaciers during the ice age – 18,000 years ago.

Coastal Features

On the sea front a 3 metre high concreate curved sea wall was built to absorb and reflect wave energy. Timber groynes were also placed along the beach to try and prevent long-shore drift and to ensure wide and relatively steep beaches . On top of the sea wall, the cliff was also strengthened by building a concrete promenade. The promenade has a road on it, small cafes and shops and seating areas (which has also brought tourism and in turn profit).

coasts hornsea hornseabeachimage



Mappleton is a small settlement south of Hornsea. It only has a small number of houses, a church, a farm and a small caravan park.


Mappleton is sits  on unconsolidated till. This material was deposited by glaciers during the last ice age 18,000 years ago.

Coastal Features

The two rock groynes at Mappleton have helped develop wide and steep sandy beaches.

Spurn Point


The area known as Spurn, forms the southern extremity of the Holderness coast and includes the unique feature of Spurn Point, a sand and shingle spit 5.5km long, reaching across the mouth of the Humber.


Spurn is made up of the material which has been transported along the Holderness Coast. This includes sand, sediment and shingle.

Coastal Features

Spurm point in its self is a spit.


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