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Assess the effectiveness of a coastal management scheme in the UK in protecting the coastline from physical processes.

The command word in the questions is assess. This means you need to make an informed judgement about how effective a coastal management scheme in the UK has been in protecting the coastline. When you complete a question like this, you could structure your answer like this:

  • opening with a judgement to focus on the answer
  • making multiple points to support the judgement
  • making a counter-argument if needed
  • finishing with a clear conclusion, emphasising the judgement
  • use evidence from examples, case studies or fieldwork, linking it to the question.


The coastal management scheme at Mappleton on the Holderness Coast has effectively stopped coastal erosion along the cliffs adjacent to the village. However, it has had unintended consequences downdrift of the defences.

The coastal management scheme at Mappleton involved two types of hard engineering – the construction of two rock groynes and the placing of rock armour along the base of the cliff. The rock armour has been effective in trapping beach material from being transported away by longshore drift. This has built up a wide, sandy beach which protects the cliffs from destructive waves. Rock armour absorbs wave energy during storm conditions, protecting the cliffs’ base from erosion.

However, although the coastal defences have protected Mappleton and the A1242 (the main coastal road linking settlements along the Holderness Coast), the erosion rate has increased downdrift of the village significantly. Beaches south of Mappleton are now starved of sediment as the groynes trap it. Beach material transported from the beach downdrift of Mappleton is not replaced, which means waves attack the base of the cliffs even during neap tides. This has increased erosion and increased mass movement through slumping.

The construction of coastal defences has led to conflict between the East Riding of Yorkshire, the local authority responsible for installing the defences, and landowners at Cowden (a settlement 1 km downdrift of Mappleton). Sue Earle, owner of Grange Farm, Cowden has experienced increased rates of erosion (from an average of 1m to 3 m per year) since the defences were installed, leading to the loss of the farm, including her home. Despite challenging the local authority, she received little compensation for losing her business.

Although the defences have protected properties and the main road at Mappleton, this is at the expense of farmers and landowners further along the coast.

AO2 – 3 marks

AO3 – 3 marks

C16 AO mark scheme

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