How effective are coastal management schemes at protecting coastlines?

There are various different management schemes for protecting coastlines, which fall into two main catagories hard and soft engineering. Both of these can be effective but they have their advantages and disadvantages. Hard engineering schemes, which involve using artificial structures designed to reduce wave energy or create a barrier between the land and sea. Such strategies includes: sea walls as well as gabions and groynes. Sea walls are a prime example of hard engineering, such as the sea wall at Skara Brae, in Scotland which has been under threat due to coastal erosion. The sea wall is good at deflecting wave energy back to sea and preventing the sea overtopping any lower natural barriers, causing flooding. However they are expensive to construct and require regular repair. Erosion at the base can undermine sea wall foundations further increasing repair costs. Moreover, sea walls many protect certain areas of the coast form erosion, they also prevent long shore drift (LSD) from transporting sediment, potentially increasing the rate of erosion further down the coastline. Hence, protection at one location is often at the expense of other groups. A cheaper hard enginnering solution is Groynes (wooden, fence like structures at right angles to a beach). They are effective at increasing a natural barrier of beach however they also inhibit LSD and speed up erosion elsewhere.By contrast, soft engineering schemes such as managed retreat are low cost and more environmentally friendly. Managed retreat allows areas of the coast to erode naturally, such as the managed retreat and decommisoning of Fairbourne Village in Wales. The advantages are that it encourages the development of beaches and salt marshes, which are important natural habitats and defenses. Managed retreat is a cheap option, but can cause signifcant local backlash from farmers losing land or anyone losing their homes. Overall, coastal management schemes help temporaily manage coastal changes, however, providing a sustainable and low cost solution to coastal erosion will always be challenging.