Concrete Coast Project

What is the Concrete Coast project?

Concrete Coast is a project managed by the YMNP on behalf of the Environment Agency, and in partnership with East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Scarborough Borough Council, the University of Hull and other organisations.  Made possible by the Water Environment Improvement Fund (WEIF), the project will explore options for improving the ecological value of artificial structures along our coastline.  In the long-term, this will increase biodiversity and provide more opportunities for coastal wildlife.

Yorkshire’s coastline may seem wild and untamed in places, but in others, there are large expanses of artificial infrastructure. Whether they are vital sea defences to keep towns and businesses safe from the ever-pounding North Sea, or harbours and slipways to provide safe haven for the fishing fleets, these man-made structures allow us to continue living and working at the coast. In creating these walls and barriers, though, we change the natural landscape of the coastline and reduce the amount of habitat available to wildlife. This project will explore how we can encourage wildlife back to artificial shorelines through simple and cost-effective methods, without changing the function or integrity of man-made coastal structures.

To find out more about how coastal change is managed, follow the link below.

Coastal Change

Artificial structures on our coastlines are usually made from hard rock, such as granite.  This rock is perfect for sea defences, as it can withstand the force and power of the ocean, providing excellent protection for communities.  In comparison with a natural shoreline, however, rock armour defences and walls are very smooth and repetitive, which do not contain the variety required for intertidal and coastal wildlife.

By adding texture, pools, crevices and holes to the rock faces, we can encourage more wildlife back into these artificial structures and restore some of the habitat that was lost.  These ‘ecological enhancements’ have no negative impact on the integrity of the structure, but could help us to improve coastal biodiversity and lessen human pressure on the natural environment.

The first phase of the Concrete Coast project will be to understand what kind of ecological enhancements could be added to artificial structures on the Yorkshire coast.  A second phase will then look to secure additional funding to implement the recommended changes.  There are multiple similar projects already active around the UK, and internationally, which will help to inform our approaches on the Yorkshire coast.

Runswick Bay

On the North Yorkshire coast, an innovative and award-winning scheme for ecological enhancements was developed for the new rock defences at Runswick Bay.  This project has successfully increased species richness and diversity on the rock armour.

Find out more at the link below


Runswick Bay Enhancements

Solent Estuary

On the south coast, Vertipools were used to provide additional rock pool habitat on sheer walls around the Solent Estuary.  Other methods of improving biodiversity, such as artificial reefs, have also been trialled.

Find out more at the link below

Solent Estuary Enhancements

Ecostructure Project

The EU-funded Ecostructure project explored eco-engineering solutions to climate change adaptation in the coastal environment.  The project explored how different designs could support biodiversity and have positive impacts for coastal communities.

Find out more at the link below

Ecostructure Project