Research into Risks to Coastal Communities

Jul 19 2011 Posted: 14:38 IST
40km Stretch of Mayo Coastline Plays Vital Role in European Project

A 40km stretch of the Mayo coastline is playing a vital role in a European research project investigating the threats posed to coastal regions by climate change. Initial findings regarding the area, from Carrowinskey to Newport, will be shared with European experts involved in the project in Westport on Thursday, 21 July.

The event will be hosted by the Irish partners, NUI Galway, Mayo County Council and Údarás na Gaeltachta, and examine the extent to which development planning is addressing coastal risk. This particular stretch of Mayo coastline was chosen as it is a microcosm of the Irish western seaboard, with open and sheltered bays, tidal flats, estuaries, dunes and urban areas along the relatively small geographic area.

The Atlantic Network for Coastal Risk Management (ANCORIM ) project is focusing on three key issues of erosion, water quality and planning. The €1.9 million initiative is funded by the EU and aims to bridge the gap between climate change scientists and coastal zone decision-makers.

“There is concern over the extent to which natural risks are taken into consideration in planning decisions,” commented Dr Kevin Lynch of NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, who is spearheading Irish participation in the project. “What we are finding is that the public are assuming there is safety from risk when granted planning permission by local authorities, but that is not necessarily the case.”

Risks linked to climate change include flooding, strong winds, coastal erosion, water pollution and forest fires. The ANCORIM project hopes to support coastal managers and planners in methods for anticipating such risks and planning for unforeseen natural events.

Commenting on this NUI Galway’s Professor Micheal Ó Cinnéide urged planning authorities to have due regard for risk in their decision-making and pointed out that ANCORIM was preparing an inventory of scientific resources and handbooks to facilitate this process.  

Led by the region of Aquitaine in southwest France, the project is supported by the Europe Union in the framework of the INTERREG IVB programme - Atlantic Space: Investing in Our Common Future. Three years of research in Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal will culminate and the publication of full findings at a conference planned for Spring 2012.




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