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West Pier collapse highlights importance of research into coastal erosion

* 6 January 2003 *

West Pier collapse highlights importance of research into coastal erosion

With the collapse of the West Pier in Brighton dramatically demonstrating the importance of good management of coastal areas, researchers at the University of Sussex have won over £1 million in funding to study coastal regions.

The Beaches at Risk (BAR) project will highlight the importance of effective beach management for coastal defence, dune rehabilitation, tourism and biodiversity conservation.

"We'll be looking at the effect of the increased storminess on coastal areas that is associated with climate change," says Dr Cherith Moses, Lecturer in Physical Geography. "We'll also be looking at the sustainability of beaches as sea levels rise and the frequency of storms. If beach volumes are declining, changing the shape of the shoreline, this changes the effect that waves have. This factor might possibly have affected the West Pier in Brighton."

The BAR project - a partnership with East Sussex County Council in collaboration with Brighton & Hove City Council - will identify beaches suffering greatest erosion on both the Channel coasts in Brighton and Hove, East Sussex and Kent and Seine Maritime, Somme, Nord and Pas-de-Calais.

"The region we're studying contains outstanding coastal areas that are under pressure from property development, rapid erosion in places and high levels of tourism and the BAR project will help to inform effective beach management strategies," says Dr Moses.

In the first two-year phase, the BAR project will bring together geographers, geologists, ecologists, and coastal managers from both sides of the Channel, whose sharing of expertise will enhance understanding of the nature of the region and the risks it faces.

University of Sussex researchers Dr Uwe Dornbusch, Dr Cherith Moses, Dr David Robinson and Dr Rendel Williams will work with East Sussex County Council ecologists Dr Alex Tait and Dr Kate Cole, and a French team of Dr Stéphane Costa and Dr Daniel Delahay at Rouen University and Dr Edward Anthony at the Université de Littoral in Dunkerque.

The funding for the BAR project comes from the European Union's Interreg III programme.

* Notes for editors *

Dr Cherith Moses can be contacted on 01273 877037 or email

Press Office contacts: Peter Simmons or Alison Field, University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, email or

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