Coastal Erosion in Britain: Which County Faces the Highest Risk?

Coastal erosion is a significant issue in Britain, with many counties facing the risk of losing land to the sea. This natural process, accelerated by climate change and human activities, threatens homes, infrastructure, and natural habitats. But which county in Britain is most at risk? To answer this question, we need to delve into the specifics of coastal erosion and examine the data available on this pressing issue.

Understanding Coastal Erosion

Coastal erosion is the process by which wind, waves, and other natural forces wear away or remove sediment from the coastline. This can result in significant changes to the shape of the coastline over time, including the loss of beaches and cliffs. Climate change, with rising sea levels and increased storm intensity, is expected to accelerate coastal erosion in many areas.

The Most At-Risk County

According to the National Trust, the county most at risk from coastal erosion in Britain is Norfolk. This county on the east coast of England is particularly vulnerable due to its low-lying, sandy coastline and the presence of several large estuaries. The Trust estimates that up to 31 square kilometres of Norfolk’s coast could be lost to the sea by 2060.

Why is Norfolk Most at Risk?

Several factors contribute to Norfolk’s vulnerability. Firstly, the county’s coastline is composed largely of soft, easily eroded materials such as sand and clay. Secondly, Norfolk is exposed to strong wave action from the North Sea, which can rapidly erode the coastline. Finally, the presence of several large estuaries in the county increases the risk of erosion, as these areas are particularly susceptible to sea level rise.

Other At-Risk Counties

While Norfolk is the most at-risk county, several other areas in Britain also face significant risks from coastal erosion. These include:

  • East Riding of Yorkshire: This county has one of the fastest eroding coastlines in Europe, with some areas losing up to 2 metres of land per year.
  • Northumberland: The coastline of this county is particularly vulnerable to erosion due to its many sandy beaches and dunes.
  • Cornwall: This county’s rugged cliffs are being steadily worn away by the sea, threatening many coastal communities.


Coastal erosion is a serious issue in Britain, with many counties facing the risk of significant land loss. While Norfolk is currently the most at-risk county, other areas such as the East Riding of Yorkshire, Northumberland, and Cornwall also face significant threats. As climate change continues to accelerate, it is likely that these risks will only increase in the future.