This Welsh Coastal Survey database contains details of coastal protection for the whole of the Welsh coastline. It also contains a collection of maps showing the location of each defence and some background information relating to the survey. The information was collected following a questionnaire sent to Welsh local authorities and major coastal landowners, probably in 1992, and also utilised existing surveys.
A single dataset was originally transferred to the United Kingdom National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD), representing a snapshot of data in the survey database at the time of transfer (February 1998). It included data gathered in the survey down to 1 December 1996, the inputting of which was completed shortly before the dataset was transferred. The survey was divided into two sections, which correspond to separate tables in the dataset derived from the survey database. These sections are the General Level of Service Survey and the Condition and Maintenance Survey.
The General Level of Service Survey (GLS) provides an overall inventory of the natural coast and coastal defences for the entire Welsh coastline. For the purposes of the survey the coastline was broken down into 'lengths', i.e. sections of coast which had been identified as having reasonably consistent characteristics. For each length the GLS table provides the following information, where details were available:
- A unique reference code for the length, which includes components identifying the maritime authority (i.e. the relevant local authority) and the Local Flood Defence Committee Area.
- The pre-1996 maritime district council (after April 1996 these councils were replaced by unitary authorities).
- The sheet number of the relevant map in the map series produced by the Welsh Office, which was designed to accompany the survey data.
- The name or a description of the area covered by each length of coastline.
- The reputed land owner or type of land owner (individual private land owners are not identified).
- Ordnance Survey grid references representing the beginning and end points of each length, and an estimate of the length of the protection in metres.
- A classification of the protection as coast protection, sea defence, hard natural coast or soft natural coast. The term 'coast protection' and 'sea defence' were distinctions used by the Welsh Office and other government agencies for different categories of coastal defences. 'Coast protection' was used for defences against coastal erosion and encroachment by the sea, while 'sea defence' was used for defences against flooding. According to the Welsh Office, these terms were based on judgements about the primary function of a defence within a particular stretch of coastline, rather than on the type of defence: e.g. embankments could be classed as coast protection or sea defence, depending on the Welsh Office's assessment of their function.
- The type of natural or man-made protection evident in the length (e.g. apron, breakwater, hard rock shore).
- The degree of exposure of the length of coastline.
- The principal type of land use behind the length.
- Estimates of the numbers of domestic and commercial properties at risk should extreme erosion or flooding occur.
The Condition and Maintenance Survey (CMS) was intended to provide more detailed information than the GLS about defences which had been classified as coast protection: i.e. defences against coastal erosion and encroachment by the sea. Similar information about Welsh sea defences had been gathered separately by the National Rivers Authority/Environment Agency Sea Defence Survey, and therefore condition-related data about sea defences was not covered by the Coastal Survey - Wales. The CMS table contains data derived from the GLS, including the reference code of each length; the pre-1996 maritime district council; the name or description of the length; Ordnance Survey grid references for the beginning and end of the length; the estimated length of the protection; and the reputed land owner or type of land owner. The CMS also includes the following additional data about coast protection defences, where known:
- More information about the types of protection in a length of coast (up to four different types of protection could be identified, as opposed to two in the GLS).
- The materials from which each of the types of protection were constructed.
- The condition of individual types of protection, and the overall condition of the types of protection.
- An estimate of the residual life of the types of protection in years.
- Dates when the types of protection were constructed and last refurbished.
- The body believed to be responsible for maintaining the coast protection structures.
- The type of foreshore, the condition of the foreshore, and the extent to which the integrity of coast protection structures was dependent on the level of the foreshore.
- The crest height of the defence, i.e. the height of the top of the coast protection structure above sea level (in most cases this information is missing).
- The date when the coast protection structures were last surveyed, the date of any photograph taken as part of the survey, and the sources of information about the structures.
The datasets in this series are available to download. Links to individual datasets can be found at piece level.