Case Study: Sustainable coastal management strategy

Newcastle, Co Down

The tourist resort of Newcastle, Co Down has long been under attack from the sea and has regularly caused flooding along the main street.

The local council have changed their management strategy for the area over the years. A number of measures have been used to manage the coastline over the last 100 years.

Illustration showing the difference coastal defences on Newcastle BeachCoastal management methods in Newcastle

The late 20th Century


As Newcastle became increasingly popular following the Second World War as a tourist resort, the council took measures to retain the beach as it was constantly being eroded away and the material was being moved along the coast.

A series of wooden groynes were built.

A photo of groynes

Easy to build into the coastline. As the groynes help to build up a beach in one place, there will be another place along the coastline that is now not getting any sand.
Relatively inexpensive. Wooden groynes need constant maintenance and replaced every 10 – 15 years.
Helps to trap the sand as it is carried along the shore by longshore drift.Some people do not like the look of the groynes and people who like to walk along the beach don’t like having to climb up over these barriers.


In the 1990s, one major area of concern was the piece of coastline from the Slieve Donard hotel and south towards Dundrum Bay.

Many gabions were installed along the coast to stop the erosion of the sand dunes and the beach in front of it. Some of the gabions lasted for 10 years but many had to be replaced on an annual basis.

A photo of gabions

Gabions are just metal cages that are filled with rocks and are very inexpensive. The rock cages can often split due to the energy caused by winter storms. They need to be repaired and replaced frequently.
The rock cages are stacked together and as the waves hit the cages the wave energy is absorbed by the gaps in the rocks. This means that there is no energy left to cause any erosion.The cages are unattractive. Pollution and litter can build up which provides a breeding ground for rats.
Can be used very quickly to form a temporary or a more permanent solution.

The early 21st Century

A sea wall has been used for many years to help manage the coast.

In 2007 a new Newcastle promenade development was completed that raised the sea wall by 1m and provided a new curved wall that would continue to protect the seafront landscape.

A photo of Newcastle seafront

Protects the land and when built high enough will also prevent coastal flooding.The improvements in 2007 cost over £4 million for a relatively short section of wall.
The curved sea wall will ensure that wave energy is reflected back out into the sea.They need deep foundations – so will require a lot of building work. This can disrupt the natural habitats of animals.
Sea walls can also help shape the landscape and provide walkways and urban architectureAs they reflect the wave energy back, this can cause coastal erosion either further along the coast or back in the sea where the waves eventually fall.
Often require replacement every 25 years.