Storms cause steep sand dunes decline

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Formby Point © Steven Cross/Flickr

Formby Point © Steven Cross/Flickr

Sand dunes in Merseyside are set to decline at more than three times the average this year, following storms that have battered the region this winter.

It is feared that the coastline at Formby Point, which is expected to erode by around four metres each year, could decline by at up to 14 metres by the end of winter.

Andrew Brockbank, countryside manager at Formby for the National Trust, told JMU Journalism that it has been a particularly bad year for coastline decline so far, adding that one storm in December accounted for 10 metres of the decline alone.

He said: “It has been a bad year, if we view it as bad and good. It’s exceptional because normally we’d expect to lose four metres each year, that trend has been going on for 100 years. So to lose 10 metres in one tide means we’ve lost an extra two-and-a-half years’ worth of erosion.

“I don’t think we lost more than two metres last year, so when we talk about Formby it is an average and we don’t know what next year will bring.”

Mr Brockbank added that whilst land was being lost at Formby, the erosion there is helping other areas to improve.

He said: “When you’re managing a sand dune system on an eroding coast, you have to accept that loss. The sand is being moved lower down the beach, it helps to buffer against further wave erosion.

“It’s also being transported long shore. So whilst we’re losing land at Formby point, along the coastline at Ainsline and Birkdale there’s actually accretion [growth] and the coastline is building out there.”

About Nick Seddon, JMU Journalism