The Dunwich–Walberswick gravel-dominated barrier system is one of many such systems in England and Wales which have been managed over the last 40 years for the purposes of flood risk management and habitat conservation. Since the early 1990s it has become increasing difficult to repair the barrier after storms and to maintain an effective flood defence. The central part of the barrier has progressively lost sediment, leading to increased risk of wave overtopping and breaching. A significant, although not extreme, storm on 31 October–1 November 2006 flattened a 2-km section of the barrier. During the summer of 2007 insufficient sediment returned to the beach and it was not possible to rebuild the bank to its original standard. Further washover and breaching occurred during 2007. Artificial maintenance of the barrier as an effective flood defence is now considered to be unsustainable, especially when the effects of climate change are considered. Consequently there is a need to develop adaptive strategies which take account of the fact that existing habitat of high conservation value will be lost, resulting in a need to create compensatory habitat elsewhere.
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Vol. 2009 • No. 253