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The Briefing

Shifting Shores: Next steps for Northern Ireland’s Coast

Shifting Shores: Next steps for Northern Ireland’s Coast Banner

by Aiken PR


A strategic approach to shoreline management is urgently needed

A strategic approach to shoreline management is urgently needed according to the ‘Northern Ireland Coastal Data: Current Status and Future Options’ report which was launched today by Northern Ireland’s leading conservation charity The National Trust.  The report highlights the need for investment in coastal monitoring and data gathering to build future momentum for better coastal management.


Key decision makers, opinion formers and local community representatives gathered at the ‘Shifting Shores, Wave 2’ seminar in Titanic Belfast where key recommendations from the report where shared to better understand coastal change and agree robust plans for the future.


Commenting at the seminar Heather McLachlan, Director of the National Trust Northern Ireland said, “Our coast is an important place for nature and for people, contributing to the economy and quality of life of all its residents. With climate change we are facing into an era of increased pressures upon the coastline including increased storminess and sea level rise. It is our duty as a conservation charity, to work in partnership with interested groups to ensure better long–term management of the coast.


“Recommendations from the seminar today include the need to invest in coastal monitoring and data gathering; a knowledge–led and strategic approach to shoreline management with support from key stakeholder groups and a long–term management approach that plans now for future change, working with nature and not against it”


In Northern Ireland, the National Trust manages 108 miles of coast and their vision is for a coastline that is clean, healthy and shaped by natural forces, in which wildlife is abundant and to which local people and visitors enjoy safe and inspiring access.


Speaking on behalf of both the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and the Department for Infrastructure, David Small, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency addressed the seminar and thanked the National Trust for organising the event and for their ongoing work on coastal management. 


In his opening address, Mr Small complimented the Trust stating: “The National Trust owns 775 miles of coastline around England, Wales and Northern Ireland and could be described as veterans in coastline management, with the Neptune Coastline Campaign running for over 50 years now.  Previous Minsters recognised that there is a gap in coastal erosion risk management in Northern Ireland and committed to completing a baseline study and gap analysis of coastal erosion in Northern Ireland.


He continued: “Today’s event is very timely in updating everyone on the progress the two Departments are making on the Baseline Study.  This will help to identify areas that may be at risk from coastal erosion.  We are also fascinated to hear of the approach to this issue in other administrations.  All of this will help to inform decisions of future Ministers and councils in ensuring a better approach to managing our coastline that is proactive, rather than reactive, and takes into account climate change.”


The seminar is part of the National Trust–wide ‘Shifting Shores’ programme and builds on the 2016 event, which inspired the National Trust to commission experts from the University of Ulster to look closely at what coastal data currently exists for Northern Ireland; to identify gaps in the research; outline options for helping decision makers better understand coastal change and agree next steps.


A copy of the full report can be found at