Published: Thursday, 22nd October 2015
One of the biggest mapping projects of the 20th century has revealed that the built-up areas of the English, Welsh and Northern Irish coasts has increased by 42 per cent over the last 50 years.
Over 17,500 hectares more of the coast is “urbanised”, equivalent to the area of Manchester.
That is one of the key findings of an initiative undertaken by the National Trust which has updated an original survey carried out in 1965 as part of its Neptune Campaign. That was the first time the impact of development on the coastline was assessed methodically.
The new mapping report, which compares the two surveys, showed that nearly three quarters of the coast of England, Wales and Northern Ireland remains undeveloped, providing an important resource for people and nature.
This latest exercise has highlighted that much of the land that has remained undeveloped is now protected by landscape or nature conservation designations such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
In fact, of the 3,342 miles identified as pristine in 1965, some 94 per cent of this has some form of statutory protection.
The National Trust insisted that the findings of the two surveys illustrated the importance of a robust and well-enforced planning system.
Peter Nixon, Director of Land, Landscapes and Nature for the Trust, said: “50 years after we launched our Neptune campaign, most of the UK coast remains undeveloped. Our coastline has been spared the sort of sprawling development that other countries have suffered.”