There are a number of old landfill sites across the SCOPAC region that have previously
been protected from the sea, but are now eroding due to deterioration of the original
protection, and are threatened by sea level rise.
Funded by Southern RFCC and Wessex RFCC local levy (£67,000) + a contribution from
LGA SiG (£3,000)
SCOPAC Contaminated Land Study
The nature of the problem is long-term as it is likely that the landfill sites contain
some of the early plastics. Given that these can take hundreds of years to biodegrade,
it will be necessary to continue to contain the sites for the foreseeable future,
as removal is unlikely to be a feasible option.
There is therefore a need for a long-term plan that is technically feasible and affordable.
The Shoreline Management Plans and Coastal Strategies form the basis of this plan,
however at present, as far as protection of landfill is concerned, they are aspirational
as there is no appropriate funding mechanism. Given that the landfill sites are often
undeveloped, they do not qualify for Flood Defence Grant in Aid funding.
This project builds upon previous work by the East Solent Coastal Partnership (ESCP)
to identify landfill sites that are at risk of erosion and flooding. The C718 CIRIA
Guidance (2013) was applied to confirm the distribution of hazard, consequence and
shoreline responsibilities. This investigation has been extended across local authorities
in the Central Southern England SCOPAC region where it appears there are many landfill
and contaminated land sites with an unclear understanding of impacts, liability,
or costs involved in resolving future problems. This is a national problem and the
problem will get worse as landfill contents become increasingly exposed due to degradation
of defences and linings, and due to impacts of climate change such as sea level rise.
Vast quantities of waste are theoretically at risk of being released (into the sea
and onto nearby land) which will pollute the marine environment and pose hazards
to the public and wildlife.
The project primarily aims to raise the profile of this issue, particularly the apparent
lack of funding and/or strategy to deal with the problem. The scope of the project
is to identify coastal landfills at risk of flooding/erosion in the region, as well
as the possible funding sources. The project is engaged in communicating this issue
to the coastal engineering and flood management community, as well as politicians
and other decision-makers.
Key achievements so far
We have completed a systematic review of possible funding sources (for remediation
of coastal landfill problems). Funding was identified, but we have found that there
is presently no satisfactory funding arrangement (i.e. lots of small, hard to attain
sources which do not meet needs for larger capital works).
We wrote a letter and corresponded with senior EA managers who raised the issue at
a national EA meeting of Area Flood & Coastal Risk Managers (September 2017). This,
in effect confirmed our own findings and consensus amongst Risk Management Authorities
(RMAs) that there is a lack of access to specific funds to protect landfills from
flood and coastal erosion risk.
We produced a presentation that was presented at a Coastal Chairs meeting in November
2017. Policy and funding were identified as key issues, and it was acknowledged that
this is a real problem that is ‘creeping up on us’, and it was suggested that this
needs to be framed as a public health issue.
We have developed a GIS database of landfill sites at risk of erosion and flooding.
This is using the EA’s Historic Landfills database, augmented with site-specific
information gained from workshops with Contaminated Land Officers in the ESCP region,
as well as joining data from Flood Zones, Shoreline Management Plans (policy and
erosion rates) and the Medium-Term Plan (MTP) Database to determine which sites will
We have undertaken a series of case studies for which the majority are a HTL SMP2
policy, with a couple of interesting exceptions. These identify site specific problems
such as neighbouring landfills with contrasting funding prospects – linked to scorable
Outcome Measures in the Partnership Funding system (we have demonstrated this with
PF scoring for each area). They also highlight leaking waste (including plastics),
and uncertainty over the content and extent of landfills in the EA’s Historic Landfills
database. The case studies are 1-2 pages per site and include a collation of photos
We have liaised and shared information with the NERC-funded University of Southampton
landfills project and are subsequently attending CIRIA steering group meetings; and
as part of this contributed to support for a further NERC bid led Queen Mary and
We continue to take any opportunities to raise the profile of the issue by liaising
with staff at the Environment Agency.
We aim to finish a first draft of the main report and circulate the case studies
to the SCOPAC local authorities by the end of August, and following this produce
Infographics highlighting key statistics about the coastal landfills and lack of
clear funding mechanism.
Dissemination of findings will be to the LGA SiG (autumn and winter meeting); SCOPAC,
Southern Coastal Group (SCG) and the RFCCs. The chairman of SCG is also raising the
profile of the issue at the national chairs meetings.
Contaminated land image courtesy of ESCP
Coastal Landfills at risk of erosion and flooding across the SCOPAC region