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 worked to understand what kind of ecological enhancements could be added to artificial structures on the Yorkshire coast.  A second phase is now underway to secure additional funding and 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.

Other Enhancement Projects

Feasibility Report

In spring 2022, Arc Consulting completed a feasibility report for the Concrete Coast project.  This report explains the various types of ecological enhancements, identifies the structural assets on the Yorkshire coast and, highlights where enhancements could be added to these structures.  Further details are provided about how ‘greening’ man-made infrastructure could bring significant benefits to coastal habitats and support organisations in achieving their obligations towards biodiversity net gain and marine nature recovery.

The report is intended to be a guide for coast protection authorities, the Environment Agency, coastal partnerships and other stakeholders to inform new projects and developments.  Further funding, consultation, development and monitoring will be required to support the implementation of the enhancements suggested.


Read the Report
© Heather Davison-Smith

Creating new habitat on timber groynes

Timber groynes are a well-known feature of the East Riding coastline. They work by trapping sand and sediment, which helps to maintain the beaches and slow the natural erosion process.  As part of the Concrete Coast project, the YMNP has worked with the local council, the University of Hull and specialist contractors to drill numerous shallow holes into selected timbers of the southernmost groynes at Hornsea and Withernsea.

These additions have no impact on how the groynes work, but they will provide more opportunity for small intertidal species to establish new colonies.  It is hoped that, in the long-term, adding more texture to the groynes will increase the diversity of intertidal species and support the wider marine ecosystem.

This innovative trial will be monitored by students from the university to measure how quickly species ‘move in’ and whether there is an overall increase in biodiversity.  This work will help to inform the Concrete Coast programme across Yorkshire, and may be replicated elsewhere.

© East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Mapping Assets and Enhancements

The feasibility report is accompanied by an online interactive map of the Yorkshire coast, illustrating the various structural assets and the types of enhancements that may be possible.

Map coming soon!