An interdisciplinary assessment of innovative coastal management: the Bacton-Walcott sandscaping scheme

CASE award with North Norfolk District Council (TOLHURST_UENV20ARIES)

An interdisciplinary assessment of innovative coastal management: the Bacton-Walcott sandscaping scheme

CASE award with North Norfolk District Council (TOLHURST_UENV20ARIES)

Project Description


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

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

Mr Rob Goodliffe, North Norfolk District Council


Rising sea levels and other effects of climate change are exacerbating coastal change internationally. Recognition of the benefits of coastal defences that work with natural processes has resulted in a shift towards ‘soft’ coastal protection. An innovative large-scale beach nourishment (sand addition) is being implemented in 2019 to reduce coastal erosion at the Norfolk Bacton Gas Terminal. Inspired by the Dutch ZandMotor, this ‘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.


  1. Baseline analysis of existing and emerging work on coastal management and the ZandMotor to identify key elements for study, e.g. perceptions of the Scheme, governance.
  2. Repeat survey work with stakeholders, residents and visitors, to understand how the Scheme and related coastal changes are perceived and understood by groups and communities managing, living at and using the coast.
  3. Creation of future scenarios, using ecological and geomorphological monitoring and modelling data, to investigate via focus groups how different futures could alter perceptions, governance, longer-term impacts and costs/benefits of the Scheme.
  4. Exploration of the Scheme 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 the first longitudinal study of social opportunities and challenges of Sandscaping as a technical innovation for adaptive governance and management of coasts.


You will complete DTP training (e.g. summer schools), and specialised research training including: principles of research design; surveying/interviewing; capabilities and ethics of data collection; understanding the significance of alternative epistemological positions; mixed methods research designs; secure data storage, cataloguing and disposal; interdisciplinary working; scenario building; 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, geography, psychology, sociology).


  • 1. 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.
  • 2. 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
  • 3. Clarke, D., Murphy, C. and Lorenzoni, I. (2018) Place attachment, disruption and transformative adaptation, Journal of Environmental Psychology. 55: 81–89
  • 4. 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.
  • 5. 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.

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, and will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award.
  • Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited experience in environmental sciences may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take advanced-level courses in the subject area (see
  • This studentship will start on 1st October 2020, and the closing date for applications is 23:59 on 15th January 2020.
  • Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 18/19 February 2020.
  • For further information, please contact the supervisor.
  • Please note that the joint NERC-ESRC ARIES-SeNSS studentship projects have different deadlines and funding arrangements. For full details please visit, or contact

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