Summer 2002

What is a Strategy Study?

Article by Graham Lymbery, Technical Services, Sefton Council

We have now completed Part 1 of the Crosby to Formby Point Strategy Study. This article goes through some of the background to the study, tells you about the outcomes of Part 1 and the Programme for the rest of the study.

A strategy study provides a framework for developing, appraising and implementing flood and coastal defence works in a logical manner where, for example:

  • problems of a large scale or solutions of a long-term nature are involved;
  • works will be implemented over a long time scale;
  • there are process connections and interactions between different sections of work;
  • there are interconnected benefit areas;
  • several smaller problems can be tackled in an integrated way;
  • the effects of any works, including environmental impacts, are likely to extend over a wide area.

    The study is carried out in four parts:

    Part 1:
    Preliminary Studies
    Collation of existing data, relevant references and consultees responses.

    Part 1 has been completed, it is available for download at (search for coast protection).

    Part 2:
    Interim Studies
    Additional studies identified in Preliminary Study required to fill gaps in information.

    Part 3:
    Strategy Study (Draft)
    Identifies problems, looks at alternative solutions, costs, benefits, impacts and consequences. Conclusion and preferred strategy with proposed timescales.

    Part 4:
    Strategy Study (Final Report)
    Consultation response to the draft strategy are reviewed and the Draft Report is amended to produce the Final Report.

    The final report is used as a working document and reviewed every five years based on the latest information available.

    What issues will we consider during the development of the Coastal Defence Study?

  • Protected habitats and species
  • Erosion of frontage between Hall Road and the River Alt
  • Potential pollution threat from dumped tin slag and demolition rubble between Hall Road and Hightown
  • Poor condition of River Alt training bank
  • Deterioration of Saltmarsh at Hightown
  • Wind blown sand problems
  • Dune management
  • Navigation of the River Alt
  • Condition of Crosby Sea Wall
  • Condition of the Promenade
  • High amenity value of the sand dunes
  • Flood risk at Hightown

    A Brief History of the Area

    "The land bounding the shore in this district is composed of ridges of sand in its wildest form, and being greatly exposed to the action of winds and tides suffers considerably. These effects are perceptible in the destruction of large quantities of land in the vicinity of landmark now in ruins near the edge of the shore and about the lifeboat house, which when erected (in 1973), stood one hundred yards inland, but now projects about three hundred yards before the hills and line of high water; in this period also at least three hundred yards have been taken from before the landmark".

    The above description, written over 150 years ago is surprisingly apt at the present date and vividly illustrates that coast erosion at Formby is not just a recent phenomenon.

    Even more surprising perhaps is the phase of rapid coastal accretion around Formby Point, which must have commenced immediately following the above report and lasted until around 1900, when marine erosion again began to take its toll and has continued to date.

    The River Alt
    The River Alt rises to the east of Liverpool at Huyton-with-Roby and flows in a north westerly direction towards Formby where it turns south towards Hightown and the sea. The upper part of the catchment is urban, the lower part rural.

    Within the total catchment area of 89 square miles there are about 20 square miles of rich agricultural fenland which could be ruined by high tides if special attention were not given to its damage. Just when this lowland area was won from the sea is not known but it is believed that the works were carried out by local monks in the 13th Century and by the Dutch in the 17th Century. The earliest written records are dated 1779, when an Act was passed for "Draining, improving and preserving the lowlands, in the Parishes of Altcar, Sefton, Halsall and Walton-upon-the Hill, in the County Palatine of Lancaster".

    South of Mariners Road, Crosby Marine Park occupies land reclaimed from the foreshore in the early 1970's. The previous coastline was not subject to erosion in the present century, where brick walls fronting on to the foreshore protected the esplanades and gardens.

    North of Mariners Road, the foreshore was very much under the influence of the River Alt until the river was diverted in 1936. Severe erosion became a problem at Blundellsands from about 1910 as the River Alt migrated southwards along the coastline scouring land from the beach and creating a steep sand cliff which during storm periods receded landwards. All the houses on the seawards side of Burbo Bank Road had to be vacated as land was lost and all attempts at artificial stabilisation by the placement of slag and rubble failed.

    What Are We Doing Next?

    We've completed part of the study and have identified a number of actions for part 2 (shown below). We will submit Part 1 to DEFRA (Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) who are the funding body and ask of approval to carry on with Part 2.

    Extend Study Area
    To better understand the coastal processes at Formby Point and their influence on the study area it is recommended that the northern boundary of the study area be extended past Formby Point.

    Investigate Tipped Rubble
    There is currently little information on the potential hazard posted by the typical rubble and tin slag between Hall Road West and Blundellsands. This is an area of active erosion and hence the degree of contamination will be a key determinant in deciding the appropriate coastal management response.

    Expand the Existing Wave Model
    In order to achieve a significant advance over existing nearshore wave predictions it is recommended that the exiting model be extended southward to include the study area. This would improve our understanding of the nearshore wave climate.

    Sand Sampling
    Windblown sand presents a significant problem in a number of sections of the study area. To inform management decisions relating to the wind blown sand problems across the study frontage, it is proposed that a number of redundant samples e taken from Formby Bank to ascertain sediment type and grain size. The management of wind blown sand will be a key feature of the final strategy.

    Tide Gauge
    To verify water levels within the study area it is recommended that a tide gauge be deployed at both ends of the study area.

    Survey of Sea Wall
    The residual lie of the Crosby Sea Wall is a significant consideration due to the assets that it protects including pipelines and residential properties. It is proposed to carry out a physical survey of the sea wall which will include the removal of core samples from selected areas.

    Archaeological Review
    The Sefton Coast has been identified as being one of England's areas of highest archaeological potential requiring investigation and research. We propose an initial archaeological desk study to compile and collate existing data and pinpoint areas of archaeological importance and potential.

    What happens when we finish?

    When completed the Strategy Study will make recommendations about work that is required on this frontage, what form it will take (i.e. rock armour) and when it will be required. It will also detail any further or ongoing monitoring that will be required.

    This document will be submitted to DEFRA for 'Approval in Principle' which means that they will give broad approval to the management approach but we will still need to make detailed grant applications for works.

    The completed Strategy Study will provide a comprehensive coastal defence managment strategy for the length of coast from Crosby Marine Lake to Formby Point

    Further Information

    For any questions contact Graham Lymbery on:
    Tel:0151 934 2960

    If you would like a full copy of the Part 1 report on CD-ROM please email or write to:

    Coastal Defence
    Ainsdale Discovery Centre Complex
    The Promenade
    Shore Road
    PR8 2QB