“Hard options” in coastal hazard risk management and adaptation plans refer to structural or engineered solutions designed to protect the coastline from erosion and other coastal hazards. These options often involve the construction of physical barriers that aim to resist natural forces. Here are some examples:
- Seawalls: These are structures built parallel to the coast, designed to protect the land behind from wave action. They are typically made of concrete, stone, or other durable materials. While effective in the short term, they can lead to increased erosion in other areas and alter natural coastal processes.
- Groynes: These are structures built perpendicular to the shoreline, usually made of wood, rock, or concrete. They trap sand moving along the coast due to longshore drift, helping to build up the beach on the updrift side. However, this can cause increased erosion on the downdrift side.
- Revetments: These are sloping structures placed on banks or cliffs in such a way as to absorb the energy of incoming water. They are typically made of rock, concrete, or other robust material.
- Breakwaters: These are offshore structures that interrupt wave action, reducing its impact on the shoreline. They can be situated offshore or connected to the land.
- Artificial Reefs: These are man-made underwater structures typically built for the purpose of promoting marine life, but they can also serve to break up wave action before it reaches the shoreline.
- Flood Gates/Barriers: These are structures designed to prevent flooding by blocking waterways during times of high water levels.
While these hard options can be effective in protecting specific areas from coastal hazards, they can also have significant environmental impacts, including altering natural coastal processes, damaging marine habitats, and increasing erosion in other areas. They can also be expensive to build and maintain. Therefore, the decision to use hard options should be based on a thorough understanding of the local coastal environment and the potential impacts.