The climate change impact highly threatens coastal regions globally. This paper covers a literature review conducted on the climate change impact on the built environment in coastal regions in the UK. This research is conducted as a part of BEACON (Built Environment learning for Climate adaptation), a collaborative research project co-funded by the EU Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

The UK is a maritime nation. According to the statistics, 10-15% of the UK's coastline comprises 10 km long stretches below 5 m elevation, and from these 3009 km (16%) is endangered due to coastal erosion. Consequently, 69% of GDP in the UK is located within 50 km of the coast and that 78% of the country's population are residents in these coastal regions(CCA, 2021). Accordingly, coastal zones are socially, economically, and environmentally indispensable to the UK as a country. Over the last decade, the UK has experienced several severe natural hazards associated with climate change events in the coastal regions resulting in significant economic and human impacts on communities, properties, and infrastructure networks. Climate change will cause sea levels to rise continuously throughout the 21st century. Sea levels have already risen around most British coasts during the 20th century, inducing rising flood levels. This tendency will develop in the 21st century, and by the 2080s, global sea levels could be between 18 and 99 cm. Due to coastal erosion, long-term morphological change is also evident in coastal areas, including extensive salt marsh losses (Nicholls et al., 2021). While these problems have various causes, climate change due to the anthropogenic greenhouse effect will worsen them (Nicholls, 2000). Around £150 billion of assets in the UK are at risk from coastal flooding. Damages to the UK from coastal flooding are estimated to be £500 million per year (Howard & Palmer, 2020). In 2007 summer floods affected 55,000 properties(Dale, 2021) and cost around £3.2 billion. In 2013–2014 the floods cost approximately £1.3 billion in insurance claims(Smith, 2013). In addition, increased storminess and more giant waves have contributed to an increased risk of storm damage and flooding in coastal areas(Nicholls et al., 2021). Coastal and offshore infrastructure is also vulnerable to changing patterns of storm conditions(Poo et al., 2021). In December 2015, during Storm "Desmond", wind gusts of up to 81 mph and record-breaking volumes of rainfall were logged across Northwest England(Hemingway & Gunawan, 2018). The storm, and its associated rainfall, is estimated to have flooded 8900 properties with over 100,000 properties left without power, with a cost estimated at £1.3 billion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceeding of the International Conference on Geography and Global Sustainability (ICGGS)-2021
EditorsL. Manawadu
PublisherUniversity of Colombo
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)97862458733719
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2021
EventInternational Conference on Geography and Global Sustainability - University of Colombo - ONLINE, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Duration: 9 Dec 202110 Dec 2021


ConferenceInternational Conference on Geography and Global Sustainability
Abbreviated titleICGGS
Country/TerritorySri Lanka
Internet address


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