Essex Estuaries - United Kingdom

Complete description of case study





Title Essex Estuaries
National level United Kingdom
Regional level Essex (Walton-On-Naze)
Local level Blackwater Estuary


The Essex Coast, situated in the east coast of UK, is an estuarine coast with extensive areas of fringing saltmarshes, mudflats and offshore sand banks. The coast sediment is abundant, with a relatively small grain size. Local topography has a marked effect on wind conditions and the Essex estuaries can be severely affected by easterly storms, as well as the >1mm mean annual sea level rising. There appears to be a general decline in beach levels, attributed to the poor supply of material from the north and enclosure and subsequent use of slatmarshes for agriculture. The coastal zone holds agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism, harbours, industry and nature conservation as its main economic activities. So there is an important amount of capital at risk, majorly agricultural land. The strategy adopted for this case was the construction of breakwaters, polders, embankments and seawalls to protect the land from floodings.


Coastal characteristics
  • Study area: 505 km (total Essex shoreline) ; Sedimentary cell: confined cell, tidally dominated
  • Type of coast: Estuary, saltmarsh, shingle beaches
  • Tidal regime: bi-diurn mesotidal, up to 4 m
  • Range of waves : dominant sea, 2-3 m high, H max about 6 m.
Policy options Managed realignment, Hold the line, Do nothing
Socio-economic activities Tourism, agriculture, fisheries and marine.
Engineering techniques Seawall, revetments, embankment, goynes, polder, nourishment


Name Alex Midlen
Maria Ferreira
Institution Colchester Borough Council
EUCC-The Coastal Union
Address PO Box 885, Town Hall
Colchester, CO1 1ZE (United Kingdom)
PO Box 11232
2301 EE Leiden (The Netherlands)
Telephone / fax +44 1206 282 480/ +44 1206 282 711
+31 71 512 29 00/+31 71 512 40 69