Future challenges of coastal landfills exacerbated by sea level rise

R P Beaven, A M Stringfellow, R. J. Nicholls, I D Haigh, A S Kebede, J Watts

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In England and Wales, there are at least 1700 coastal landfills in the coastal flood plain and at least 60 threatened by erosion, illustrating a global problem. These landfills are a major issue in shoreline management planning (SMP) which aims to manage the risks associated with flooding and coastal erosion. Where landfills exist, "hold the line" (requiring the building or upgrading of artificial defences to maintain the current shoreline) is often selected as the preferred SMP option, although government funding is not available at present. To investigate these issues in detail, three case-study landfills are used to examine the risks of future flooding and erosion together with potential mitigation options. These cases represent a contrasting range of coastal landfill settings. The study includes consideration of sea-level rise and climate change which exacerbates risks of erosion and flooding of landfills. It is fundamental to recognise that the release of solid waste in coastal zones is a problem with a geological timescale and these problems will not go away if ignored. Future erosion and release of solid waste is found to be more of a threat than flooding and leachate release from landfills. However, while leachate release can be assessed, there is presently a lack of methods to assess the risks from the release of solid waste. Hence, a lack of science constrains the design of remediation options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-101
Number of pages10
JournalWaste Management
Early online date6 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2020


  • England
  • Sea Level Rise
  • Solid Waste
  • Wales
  • Waste Disposal Facilities
  • Shoreline management plans
  • Coastal landfill
  • Remediation
  • Flooding
  • Sea-level rise
  • Erosion

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