£400 million of Property and One-Fifth of the Scottish Coast is Under Threat from Erosion

According to research, properties and other infrastructure worth £400 million across one-fifth of Scotland’s coastline is at risk of erosional damage within the next three decades. 

Key information on this matter was found in a case study, which was based on the impact of climate change and coastal erosion over a length of time up until the year 2050.

A study on the country’s coastline, beginning in the 1980’s, was carried out by a group of experts from the Scottish Government, University of Glasgow and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

The Dynamic Coast project drew information from over 2,000 maps and one million data points, to forecast what parts of the Scottish coast may look like in the future, based on growth rates and past erosion.

The study showed that, since the 1970s, the erosion rate has doubled, and the scale of this had increased by 39 percent. These changes are consistent with certain predictions about climate change.

Chairmam of the SNH’s Scientific Advisory Committee Professor Robert Furness has said: “Our research tells us that in order to preserve Scotland’s coastal infrastructure, we need to work hard and put in the effort before it’s too late.”

He goes on to say “Luckily, property, roads and other infrastructure worth around £13 billion, are already protected by natural elements like dunes and beaches; an extra £5 billion worth is lying underneath engineered defenses. Nature is already protecting a plethora of valuable assets”. 

Robert also reminds us that by the year 2050, £400 million worth of property, roads, and infrastructure that lie along these coastlines, may have to deal with the damage erosion can cause. He said “right now, our mission is to make sure that we do all we can to protect the areas that are in these danger areas.”

The 5,000-year old Skara Brae settlement in Orkney and the Old Course in St Andrews, are within a danger area, however both natural and man made defenses are already protecting this area. Montrose, Islay airport, RAF Tain at Morrich More and the River Cree’s banks and rail line are also in high risk areas.