Innovative adaptive coastal governance: the Bacton-Walcott Sandscaping Scheme

CASE award with North Norfolk District Council and HaskoningDHV UK Ltd (TOLHURST_UENV19AS)

Innovative adaptive coastal governance: the Bacton-Walcott Sandscaping Scheme

CASE award with North Norfolk District Council and HaskoningDHV UK Ltd (TOLHURST_UENV19AS)

Project Description

This project has been shortlisted for joint NERC-ESRC funding, with the SeNSS ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership


Dr Trevor Tolhurst (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)

Dr Candice Howarth (School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Surrey)

Dr Irene Lorenzoni (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)


With a shift to soft coastal protection, large-scale beach nourishment (sand addition) will be implemented in Spring 2019 to reduce coastal erosion at the Norfolk Bacton Gas Terminal. Inspired by the Dutch Zand Motor, this innovative ‘Sandscaping’ Scheme will be the first of its kind in the UK.

Geomorphological monitoring and modelling of coastal responses are currently underway, however the benefits, impacts and implications for society require investigation. The Dutch experience revealed unforeseen effects and responses, raising important questions about societal and governance responses to the Sandscaping Scheme.


As a basis for this project, you will first (in year 1) analyse existing and emerging work on the Dutch ZandMotor, identifying key elements relevant for the Scheme – in consultation with partners and stakeholders- which require study as it progresses, e.g. perceptions of the scheme, governance.

To understand how the Scheme and related coastal changes are perceived and understood by groups and communities managing, living at and using the coast, regular and repeat survey work with residents and visitors (in years 2 and 3), will be undertaken, as well as interviews with key stakeholders (e.g. Terminal Operators).

Using ecological and geomorphological monitoring and modelling data, potential future scenarios will be created to investigate via focus groups how different developments could alter perceptions, governance, longer-term impacts and costs/benefits of the scheme (in years 2 and 3). The Scheme will also be explored in relation to understandings of climate change among different groups, and how this may affect communication and knowledge translation at different temporal and spatial scales. The project thus provides a first longitudinal study of social opportunities and challenges of Sandscaping as a technical innovation for adaptive governance and management of coasts.


You will partake in DTP training (e.g. summer schools), specialised research training (see Project Description), strengthening your skills in interdisciplinary working; scenario building; survey/interviewing; and networking with stakeholders and policy actors.

Person specification

You should have a strong interest in multidisciplinary approaches to understanding societal responses to innovation and emerging governance issues. Suitable backgrounds include natural and social sciences (environmental science, psychology, sociology).


  • Spalding, M.D., McIvor, A.L., Beck, M.W, Koch, E.W., Möller, I., Reed, D.J., Rubinoff, P., Spencer, T., Tolhurst, T.J., Wamsley, T.V., van Wesenbeeck, B.K., Wolanski, E. and Woodroffe, C.D. (2014) Coastal ecosystems: a critical element of risk reduction. Conservation Letters, 7(3): 293-301
  • Howarth, C. & Painter, J. (2016) The IPCC and local decision making on climate change: a robust science-policy interface? Palgrave Communications, 2:16058, doi: 10.1057/palcomms.2016.58
  • Clarke, D., Murphy, C. and Lorenzoni, I. (2018) Place attachment, disruption and transformative adaptation, Journal of Environmental Psychology. 55: 81–89
  • Tolhurst, T.J., Lorenzoni, I. and Day, S. (2017) Blue Opportunities from the future: knowledge and tools to inform sustainable growth for an integrated terrestrial, coastal and marine zone economy. Impact, 11(3): 59-61
  • Vikolainen, V., Flikweert, J., Bressers, H. and Lulofs, K. (2017) Governance context for coastal innovations in England: The case of Sandscaping in North Norfolk. Ocean and Coastal Management, 145:82-93

Open for applications

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