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To what extent should Walton-on-the-naze be protected from the sea?

Categories: BeachSea

In this piece of coursework I am studying Walton-on-the-naze. I will decide at the end of this piece of coursework to what extent Walton-on-the-naze should be protected from the sea.

Walton-on-the-naze is a part of the east coast of England which is situated in Essex. It sticks out and faces the North Sea.

The title of this project is about what extent Walton-on-the-naze should be protected from the sea. The title is basically asking for me to take a side, do I think that the sea should be left to take a natural course or should Walton-on-the-naze be protected from the sea. I have then got to explain my reason for my views.

Chapter 1

(What is the naze like?)

In this chapter I will be discussing what the naze is like. I will be describing what land uses there are, what the landscape is like and what geology there is behind Walton-on-the-naze.

There is a land uses map on the next page of this project, it is basically illustrating the land uses Walton has in birds-eye view.

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Land uses:

There are many different land uses for Walton-on-the-naze; there are residential uses, recreational uses, services, a nature reserve, agriculture, tourist shops, and industry.

The residential uses in Walton are all the homes that have been built in the old coastal town, such as the beach houses built right by the coast.

Recreational uses in Walton are; the tourism and amusements such as the naze nature reserve.

Services in Walton include a sewage works, a nature reserve, and local police stations.

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There is also a Sight-of-specific-interest (SSSI) in Walton-on-the-naze. Sea defences have been built to defend parts of Walton in hope of saving the small coastal town.

The sea defences were mainly built in the past to maintain land back in the days of war when a lot of Walton was used, and still is used for agriculture use.

Agriculture was used a lot when Britain was at war, what happened was when the British were at war with the Germans, the Germans kept using their U-boats to destroy all supply ships which ere attempting to supply Britain with crucial supplies. But there was a big problem most supplying ships never made it to Britain, this was Germany’s idea of getting Britain to surrender, but the British government made a comeback and started producing agriculture all over Britain so they did not have to rely on anyone else for supplies. Anyway Walton was one of many places used for agriculture to aid Britain because of very fertile soil and this was one of the main reasons why sea defences were built back in the past, and still stay maintained today but for other reasons now.

There are also tourist shops in Walton which helps to increase the number of tourists that come to Walton every year. Roughly Walton gets visited by about 700,000 tourists a year.

Walton also has several industries; they have a sewage works and in the past they used to be a major cloths manufacturing plant.

There are also salt marshes in Walton; the salt marshes could make Walton extra money if they majored in a salt industry.


So what geology is there behind Walton-on-the-naze? Well Walton is one of the most famous places in the world for finding fossils (this is the main reason for Walton being a SSSI). The fossils mainly consists of marine life forms, the most commonly found fossils are the seven gilled sand shark teeth and the Mackerel shark teeth.

Also Walton-on-the-naze is eroding extremely fast; this is because of the material the cliffs are made off. The top layer is made of Topsoil, then underneath this is the Red crag, and underneath this is the London clay which is the only impermeable layer. Basically because clay is so soft it erodes, and collapses very easily. The diagram above shows this with the flow of water that goes through the top layers that are permeable, what happens is because water and sea water that goes through the two top layers, the top layers become very vulnerable because the water pushes through small gaps of the clay and soil which loosens these layers and makes them crumbly, plus the water flowing through the permeable layers lubricates the layers which makes it very easy for the permeable layers to collapse. Also because sea water runs through the top layers of the cliffs too, what happens is when the water exits the cliff’s top layers it leaves salt deposits behind which expand the small holes in the top layers of the coastal cliffs which again helps make the cliff even more crumbly which eventually makes the cliffs collapse more and more.

The diagram above is a good illustration of what is happening to the coast of Walton-on-the-naze the softer, permeable layers at the top are collapsing, so Walton coast experiences a lot of landslides; however the bottom layer (London clay) is impermeable and very hard clay which means basically the bottom layer gets left behind and the sea very quickly rises above this lower level of the cliff.


So what is the landscape like in Walton? Well there is a small town, and a lot of farming space which is used for agriculture. Walton in general is pretty flat and very close down to sea level. As you get further away from the sea the contour changes very quickly from being 20m above sea level to going below sea level The landscape of Walton is also covered with concrete sea walls and allsorts of other kinds of sea defences which protect parts of Walton’s coast.

Chapter 2

(What evidence is there of the sea affecting the naze?)

In this chapter I will be explaining what evidence there is of the sea affecting the naze. There are a lot of different theories which all contribute to the sea affecting the naze.

The different theories of the sea affecting the naze are; hydraulic action, Abrasion, Attrition, and Long-shore drift.


Hydraulic action:

Hydraulic action is when waves hit the coast and force air into cracks of rock in the cliff, as the waves retreat from the cliff the air that was trapped is forced out causing small rock explosions as you can see in the diagram above.


Abrasion is when the sea carries pebbles and rocks that wear away the land.


Attrition is where rocks and pebbles carried by the sea collide and form smaller, smoother pebbles.

Long-shore drift:

Long-shore drift is the movement of material along the coast, what happens is the swash comes in at an angle and collects material , then as the sea retreats to a backwash, the backwash goes out parallel to the land so the material had moved slightly. Quickly over time this process is very effective and is the reason why beaches loose sand quickly if they don’ have protection.

How is the sea affecting the naze?

Now that I have explained the different theories that I think are happening at Walton-on-the-naze I will give primary photographic evidence to prove and explain how the naze is affecting the sea.

This picture shows one of the many gun-emplacements used in the past which has been broken down by the sea. Gun emplacements were built back in the days of war on the top of cliff’s to keep an eye out on the coast for enemies. Look at this gun emplacement now it’s on the beach literally on the border of the sea at low-tide, the gun emplacement must nearly be entirely covered by sea-water when there is a high-tide. However this photo shows clear evidence for the sea affecting the naze because back in the days of war when this gun emplacement was built the area where the gun emplacement is today would have been about 20- 50metres above sea level, but look at it today, it shows clear indication that hydraulic action, Abrasion, attrition, and Weathering & Erosion in generality have all taken place by Walton, which is prove of the sea affecting the naze.

This photo is showing a wave-cut platform. What has happened in the past is the Red crag layer of Walton’s coastal cliffs has all eroded and collapsed into the sea, leaving the London Clay behind. If you look in the picture to the left you can see there is a greyish colour at the base of the cliff that is the London clay, note that at the very top of the cliff in this photo the layer is an orange colour which is the Red crag layer of the cliff. Also note that further down the cliff in-between the wave-cut platform and the top of the cliff which is Red crag there is a layer of orange and greyish mixture. (This is where the tide comes in at its highest and breaks down Red crag further inland, the Red crag then falls onto a layer of London clay giving a contrast in colour.)

The evidence of wave-cut platforms which was caused by abrasion, attrition, and erosion in general is clear indication that the sea is affecting the naze.

This photo shows debris on the beach of Walton which is clear evidence that attrition has taken place primarily because of all the small shingle and bigger pebbles that are lying on the beach which could be here by long-shore drift and coastal deposition but looking at the bigger pebbles in the picture which are a greyish colour you can actually see this is debris from Walton its London clay pebbles, which is too big to be carried around the sea so the shingle is likely to have been formed by attrition at Walton.

There is also evidence of abrasion because of the debris formed by attrition. Abrasion would have had to of taken place before the attrition because abrasion is the process where small pebbles in the sea weather landscape and make chunks of debris fall to the sea, this is when attrition happens which is where pebbles and rocks collide and form into smaller and smoother rocks or pebbles. As attrition and abrasion have happened this is clear evidence that the sea has been affecting the naze.

In this picture you can see pipeline and the remains of some old bricks. I presume these bricks were part of an old sea defence, or were part of a pillbox, or possibly a gun emplacement. Anyway there is evidence of general erosion, abrasion, hydraulic action, and partial attrition because the pipeline you can faintly see which was used to drain water from in the cliff to stop it collapsing so fast isn’t meant to be that visible only the very end bit should stick out which is evidence of general erosion, and abrasion. The brick debris is evidence of hydraulic action, general erosion, attrition, and abrasion. The bricks and pipeline are both evidence of the processes I have just explained so therefore they show clear evidence of the sea affecting the naze.

Here you can see vegetation on top of these very low cliffs at the unprotected side of Walton, note the clear contrast in rock layer. (On the very top there is a brownish topsoil layer, then there is the red crag which is the orange layer, and underneath this is the London clay layer, which is a greyish colour) There is vegetation here most probably because of the silt deposits that the sea carries which plants really like for growth, also back in the days of war Walton was selected for one of the many places in the UK to grow produce so this vegetation could be from back in the days of war. There is evidence of the sea affecting the naze because firstly the cliff face you sea is very smooth, and secondly silt deposits have probably helped vegetation to grow here and stay here over the years.

Chapter 3

(What protection currently exists at the naze?)

In this chapter I will be discussing what protection currently exists at Walton-on-the-naze, and then I will be talking about how each type of protection that is at the naze helps to protect Walton. I will then be discussing how successful each type of protection is that is at Walton.

This is the protection that currently exists at Walton:


Groynes are long barriers made of permeable or impermeable material that faces out to the sea at an angle so that the groynes prevent the process of long-shore drift. If you look at the diagram below you can see that the groynes are stopping the sediments escaping which build up beaches and land at Walton.


? Prevents Long-shore drift

? A cheaper option compared to other sea defences


? Short life (about 20 years)

? If long-shore drift is poor than down-drift starvation will happen

Sea Walls:

There are two types of sea walls; vertical sea walls and curved sea walls. Both walls are made of either masonry blocks or concrete, and both sea walls are made of impermeable material for obvious reasons.

A vertical sea wall is a solid, vertical structure with strong foundations. The vertical sea wall breaks up waves by absorbing most of their energy. If you look at the Vertical sea wall diagram below then you will sea a fair amount of wave splash back enters land, although once the waves hit the sea wall most of the energy is lost.

A curved sea wall is like a vertical sea wall, apart from the fact it has a curved lip and a curving ramp. The idea of a curved sea wall is that the waves are thrown back because of the ramp and curved lip. The waves that hit the curved sea wall therefore do not get thrown over the wall but are pushed backwards with gravity spreading out their energy. If you look at the curved sea wall diagram below you can see the blue dots which represent invading waves travel up the ramp to then become red dots which represent retreating waves. This process stops the wave splash entering land opposed to a vertical sea wall.


? The massive structure can withstand severe wave-action

? Sea walls have a long-life


? High capital costs

? Sea walls decrease beach permeability


A breakwater is a solid, man-made, masonry faced concrete cap that is based in rock foundations. It will get overtopped at high tide but it is primarily designed to break and weaken waves rather than stop them passing altogether. If you look at the diagram below you can see that a breakwater can be used as a groyne too.


? Slows down long-shore drift

? Encourages sediment collection (which is a result of slow long-shore drift)


? Reducing long-shore drift may cause down-drift starvation

? High capital & maintenance costs


Marsh is like a sponge-like substance. It can work as a sea defence because the land it is made of is full-of water deposits which makes the land act as a sponge. This therefore means when waves strike marsh, the marsh will just absorb the wave energy protecting any surroundings behind the marsh. As you can see from the diagram below the high concentration of water deposits makes the land marshy which can be used as a natural sea defence.


?Natural sea defence



?Weaker sea defence

?Dangerous substance to be by (it’s similar to quick sand)

Beach replenishments:

Beach replenishments are beaches that are fed artificially with material from another location. Beach replenishment materials include materials like; sand, shingle or pebbles. The idea of beach replenishment is to restore old beaches and thus build up a better natural defence against the sea.


?Replenishment rebuilds a beach providing a flexible buffer

?Low costing if replenishment is only needed annually

?Replenishment is fed along shore


?Imported material may be incorrect size for beach, so you face prosecution if imported material doesn’t act how it is meant to act

Natural beach:

A natural beach is a native beach which allows changes in a coastal system so that it can take its natural course. A natural beach usually consists of sand, pebbles, and shingles. As you can see in the diagram below a natural beach is just a beach and sea with nothing done by mankind to effect the environment.


?There are no direct costs

?Unprotected eroding shore will provide sediments for the beach system

?The beach remains natural


?Compensation may be needed for owners lost land

Rock armour:

Rock armour is where you have large blocks of rock that are emplaced as a permeable ramp. They are placed like this so that the large rocks break up the waves and then sink down the waves to the ramp which puts the water back in the sea. If you look at the diagram below you can see the flow of sea-water after the waves loose their energy by smashing against the rocks.


?Low capital cost

?Stops wave energy in harmless way


?High cost if rock armour isn’t local material

?May disrupt Long-shore balance

Is the protection successful?

In this section I will be discussing how successful each type of protection there is at Walton. (For reference of Walton’s protection checks my previous section which is about the protection that currently exists at Walton).


This type of protection has been successful at Walton. As you can see from the picture to the right the groynes are doing their job by keeping various amounts of sediments by Walton which is a good thing for tourism. As you go more southwards to Walton the groynes have kept more sediments than at the side further north of the groyne protection. The only disadvantage of the groynes is that they have to be changed every so often.

Sea Walls:

This type of protection has been successful at Walton, but the success has had a cost. The construction of these sea walls caused the destruction of many properties along the coastline of Walton. Also there are still high capital costs for these sea walls, but overall the sea walls have been successful at protecting Walton so far.


This type of protection has been successful at Walton because it has helped stop the process of long-shore drift by acting as a big solid, concrete groyne. Although the maintenance costs are high this protection has been successful at protecting Walton.


I don’t think this type of protection has been very successful at Walton. Although it is free, natural protection it doesn’t really defend land behind it at high-tide when all the water comes in.

Beach replenishment:

This type of protection has been quite successful because the beach is the best form of protection, and also because there are groynes around this means that the extended beach will increase protection at Walton.

Natural beach:

The natural, unprotected beach is not a successful form of protection because long-shore drift is transporting all the sediment deposits which were defending the weak cliffs.

Rock armour:

This type of protection has and still is very successful at Walton, although it is expensive to buy it is worthwhile to have as it is a successful type of protection that exists at Walton

Chapter 4

(What are the arguments for and against further protection?)

In this chapter I will be discussing arguments for and against investing further protection for the small, old coastal town called Walton.

Firstly English heritage is a reason why further protection should be invested. The old naze tower that was built in 1720 was originally designed as a land mark for nearby boats and ships, but today the naze tower is one of the very few remaining great examples of English history. If further protection is not invested than the naze tower will be gone in a very short period of time meaning local society has allowed evidence of great English history to be washed away.

Secondly global warming is a reason against investing further protection for Walton. Even if more protection is to be invested at Walton in the next few years it will still fail after a terrifyingly short period of time because of global warming which is causing global sea levels to rise which means the protection will be useless because the waves will be getting higher against lower sea walls. Also because of the fact eastern England is sinking whilst parts of Scotland are rising this means that again the effects of global warming will be sped up if the sea walls start to sink never the less of rising sea levels which is caused by global warming. Investing in further sea walls will still make Walton vulnerable.

Thirdly a lot of nature will be lost if further protection is rejected. About 2metres of land is lost on a annually basis, and this figure is increasing, but if further protection is put into place then the rate of land loss will decrease meaning more nature can be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

This means if local nature is lost then habitats are going to be lost which as a result means a huge, negative impact on Wildlife as they will have no-where to live. If the wildlife dies then you are taking one of the beautiful prospects away from Walton.

Fourthly the SSI which is situated in Walton will be even more exposed if the sea is allowed to take its natural course, and make the land retreat. This means the fossil hunters will be likely to find better fossils if the land is unprotected meaning we could find big chunks of information about British history.

Also if further protection is invested than it is very unsightly and it will ruin Walton’s appearance, this may make tourists decide not to visit Walton, meaning possible bankruptcy for Walton, as Walton heavily relies on tourism to maintain itself.

Fifthly local housing is a reason to keep Walton investing in further protection. Every time housing is lost Walton has to pay the owner of residence compensation, in fact it may work out cheaper to build sea defences rather than paying compensation for every property that is lost to the sea.

Also if further protection is not invested than Walton faces the possibility of becoming an island. What could happen is that the part of Walton that is not protected will be lost to sea and the sea will cut around Walton town and so Walton will have to pay accessibility costs for entering and leaving Walton, e.g. a suspension bridge.

Sixthly high costing is a reason to prevent Walton from investing in further protection. Walton will save over �1.8million per year if it stops funding protection, meaning that Walton will have more money to fund itself for other things that it needs.

Seventhly tourism is a big reason to keep investing in protection. A lot of the reasons for having more protection all link up to tourism. Tourism plays a very big role in Walton. If there is no English heritage in Walton because the sea destroys it then you will loose a certain % of tourists who want to visit to see the English heritage. If there is a low % of wildlife left because their natural habitat has been taken by the sea than the wildlife and nature tourists will not want to come and see Walton so that’s another big % of tourists lost. Basically if no more protection is invested at Walton then a lot of the things tourists come to visit Walton for will be all gone so they will not want to come. Did I mention that Walton relies heavily on tourism to maintain itself?

Finally my last point is about long-shore drift. If protection is built, and then more and more protection is built you face the risk of giving other areas that are not protected down-drift starvation. Other areas near Walton or even areas in Walton that rely on long-shore drift to get their sediments will not get them because protection is built further up the coast so the area of protection is getting all the valuable sediments. Also even protected areas may not receive sediments because of other protection further down the coast which is collecting all the sediments. What I’m trying to illustrate is that when you protect a certain area from the sea or from loosing sediments you will face the risk of harming other areas because you are collecting all their sediments so in fact investing in protection could mean the downfall of other local nearby places.

Chapter 5

(What do I think should be done?)

In this chapter I will be deciding on what I think should be done in the future for Walton in terms of protection. There are several points to consider that I have explained in my last chapter, once I have considered the points for and against further protection I will come to a justified conclusion.

All the reasons for having protection are; because of tourism which funds a huge amount of Walton’s income. Also English heritage and wildlife also link into tourism which will be lost if more protection is not invested. Finally housing is the last reason for more protection, as the UK population increases people need more places to live so more buildings will have to be built which means in the case of buildings in Walton you need the protection to keep the buildings there.

Reasons against further protection are; the fearful effects of global warming which will make sea levels rise, meaning there is no point in investing more protection. Also the SSI will be revealed more if further protection isn’t invested which means you will get more fossil hunter tourists. Also without having protection you don’t cause the long-shore drift problem which causes other areas to suffer from down-drift starvation. Another benefit of stopping the investments for protection is that you get to see more picturesque views rather than unsightly views. Finally High costing means Walton is loosing more money than it needs to. Walton will be able to fund itself a lot better without paying protection prices.

After analysing reasons for and against further protection I have come up with the conclusion that Walton should not have anymore protection invested. I say this because the protection investment costs are too high, and even if you kept investing in protection than the protection will fail in a very short period of time due to rising sea levels and the fact eastern England is sinking.

Investing in further protection would mean that you save more wildlife and the English heritage that exists at Walton, but is it really worth splashing out so much money just to preserve a little piece of history. You have much more history in Britain; the tower is only one little thing, yes the tower brings in a few tourists but the cost of more and more protection will be much higher than income from tourism. The only main issue with not investing in more protection is the housing, the housing should be ok for a while but eventually the housing will be lost.

To summarise not investing in more protection means; that you let nature take its natural course, it also means that you save Walton a lot of money which it needs to maintain itself. Also the SSI will be revealed more and more.

So in conclusion I think that no more protection should be invested at Walton, but the protection that already exists should be maintained.

Cite this page

To what extent should Walton-on-the-naze be protected from the sea?. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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