How have human activities shaped the landscape between Prawle Point and Start Bay?

On day two, we analysed the human home settlements found in the villages of Hallsands, Beesands and Torcross. The whole aim of doing this was to find how these man made homes and settlements have affected the land at each village, and how other human activities have affected these settlements vulnerability to coastal damage, as how the natural coastline has developed due to this. We also looked at how these settlements have used man made sea defences t help protect them from coastal attacks.
Firstly, here is the route we took along the coast from Start point (red) to Torcross (green), passing both Beesands and Hallsands along the way.

Hallsands – Description
When we visited Hallsands we noticed that it was had very small population, with little human settlements which were all near each other. Hallsands also had many narrow rough roads throughout the village and was ear the shore.
Hallsands – History
Between the years 1894-1903 the shingle beach close to Hallsands was lowered by 1.4m, due to the continuous taking of the shingle to build the dockyards at Plymouth. This made the village of Hallsands extremely vulnerable and open to floods from the waves of the sea.
In 1917 a storm with 10m waves destroyed the now unprotected village of Hallsands which was no longer protected by the defensive beach it once had.
Hallsands – Present Sea defences
Since the destructive storm of 1917 Hallsands has created new man made sea defences to ensure is constantly protected from future storms. You can see present day evidence of this when visiting Hallsands as it now has rip-rap, groups of large rocks stacked together, which break up strong waves and the energy they contain whilst they travel, reducing the impact when they hit these rocks.
Beesands – Description
Compared with Hallsands, the village of Beesands had more human settlements dispersed throughout its land, with large areas of space between them, although thy were all generously within the same perimeter. Like Hallsands however, Beesands also had various narrow roads and is located near the shore.
Beesands – History
The village of Beesands is continuously vulnerable to flooding due to its beach having a lack of shingle moving northwards along the coastline, by long shore drift. There is no new source of shingle as its origins are 40km out in Start Bay.
Beesands – Present Sea defences
In the village of Beesands rip-rap was put down to help defend against the sea waves, but was quickly eroded and in 1992 a sea wall was built, along with gabions, which still stands today. The sea wall works by pushing the wave back on itself therefore breaking the impact of the wave and the energy it carries, Gabions work similar to rip rap meaning the also break up the energy of the wave and reduce its impact in the collision.
Tocross – Description
Tocross, like Beesands also had a larger amount of human settlements which were found generally close to each other. However, tit was easily noticeable that the houses were pointing at different angels and varied in different shapes ad seizes. Also, compared to both Beesands and Hallsands Torcross was further away from the shore, although still near.
Torcross – History
In 2001, a destructive storm occurred near the village of Torcross and the continuous collision of waves, due to its vulnerability damaged the road along Slapton sands.
Torcross – Present Sea defences
Like Beesands, the village of Torcross choose to build a sea wall after the destructive storm to help protect against sea waves in the future. This still stands today and can be seen when visiting the village.
Sea Defences – Disadvantages
Although these man made sea defences provide secure safety for many years to these human settlements within the villages, they come with a disadvantage of being incredibly expensive, which can therefore weaken the overall economy of the village itself. You can see the scale of how expensive these defences are when calculating the cost of the rip-rap and sea wall found at Beesands. Below is the calculation of the cost of these sea defences:
Rip-rap = �3,000 per metre Length of Rip-rap = 254metres
Cost of Rip-rap in Beesands – �3,000 x 254 = �762000
Seawall = �3500 per metre Length of Seawall = 254metres
Cost of Seawall in Beesands – �3,500 x 254 = �889000
Gabions = �100 per metre Length of Gabions = 254metres
Cost of Gabions in Beesands – �100 x 254 = �254000
Value of property
Now we know the full cost of the sea defences found in Beesands we need to find whether these sea defences are actually worth the money provided they protect these homes. To find this we need to calculate the cost of all the properties found in Beesands and compare it the cost of the sea defences’. Below is the calculation for the value of these properties found in Beesands:
Residential Properties
Residential properties = �150,000 per floor 25 houses (2 floors each)
Cost of residential properties – �150,000 x 50 = �750,000
Commercial Properties
Commercial properties = �170,000 per floor 4 businesses (3x2floors, 1x1floor)
Cost of commercial properties = �170,000 x 7 = �1190000
Overall cost of sea defences = �1905000
Overall cost of properties = �1940000
As you can see the cost of the sea defences in Beesands appears to be worth the safety of the properties which are there, although there is only a �35,000 difference in the values of the sea defences compared to the value of the properties. This means that although the sea defences aren’t costing more then the settlements which are there, the overall economies of Beesands would be affected by the costs of it.
The Future
Although for now Beesands, Hallsands and Torcross are generally protected from minor occurring storms, the face major dilemmas on what they will need to do to help protect them in the future. This will be determined by two major factors.
Ageing Population
The first is the increasingly ageing population dispersed throughout Britain. In the years to come more and more people will be retiring and face the possibility of moving nearer to the coast. If this were to happen then the village will need to consider whether they will gain enough money to support the village with more sea defences.
Global Warming
The second major factor is global warming. With the frequency of occurring storms continuously increasing will the village be able to protect itself from the increasing occurring storms in the future.
There are two major possibilities that these three villages could consider to do. The first is to simply stop spending money on sea defences and allow nature to take its course, possibly resulting in many storms and therefore floods to the village. The second is to continue spending money on further sea defences although they cant be sure how successful they will be and for how long.
My Conclusion
I personally think that the villages should invest in further sea defences even though they will cost the economy of the villages dearly. This is because if they chose not to invest in the defences and admit defeat then these villages will eventually be completely destroyed and lost forever; therefore these sea defences are vital in securing the long term protection of these settlements. I also think that even though sea defences seem extremely expensive and someone people may think they are not worth it, if there are no sea defence mechanisms at all to protect these settlements then there will be no hope at all for these settlements to survive from whatever they are exposed to in the future.

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