From the 5th to the 7th of December 2013 the east coast of England was affected by “the biggest UK storm surge for 60 years”. The storm surge along parts of the coast reached higher levels than the devastating floods of 1953. Loss of life due to flooding was avoided; but there was still extensive change to the coastline, damage to seawalls, and flooding of areas designated as “hold the line”. This event offers a unique opportunity to investigate the environmental impacts and social and policy responses to a severe episodic event.
A team of natural and social scientists within the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA has received funding from NERC to determine the environmental impacts of this storm surge event and understand the social responses. The study area is the North Norfolk Coast (NNC), between Brancaster and Salthouse, constituted by a mosaic of urban, natural, semi-natural habitats and farmland, used extensively for recreation. The social sciences component will engage with the public and stakeholders to explore and understand the social and policy responses to the flooding and disruption caused to natural habitats and areas of conservation and recreation. It will focus on understanding how, from the perspective of its inhabitants and visitors, the changes to the landscapes resulting from the storm surge are being considered and received and how these have been managed in the immediate and short-term aftermath of the event by national agencies and local decision-makers. It will also explore how the event may create opportunities (or barriers) for changing thinking and policy around responses to storm events and longer term adaptation and transformation.
Marisa Goulden, Irene Lorenzoni, Trevor Tolhurst.
March – November 2014