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Page last updated at 13:16 GMT, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Coastal erosion

Our coastline is changing. Experts are warning what we take for granted today will have vanished in 100 years. The challenge is what we do about it now?

Coastal area

Video: Coastal erosion

The North West England and North Wales Coastal Group are currently preparing a revised Shoreline Management Plan for the North West coast from Great Orme's Head up to the Scottish Border.

And they want to hear from members of the public who live along the coast.

As The Politics Show reveals, a consultation programme with the public is underway.

A special website has been set up to inform and record your views.

Everyone who lives along this coastline has a different idea about what should be done with it, which is why the consultation exercise has been set up.

Defra guidance

All is not calm on the coastline...

A spokesman for the North West Coastal Group says: "The plan is the means by which the Coastal Group will determine the best way to look after the coast in a sustainable way for the next 100 years.

"It is prepared using guidelines set down by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which is the government department having responsibility for setting national policy for defence of the coastline."

Our special report for The Politics Show reveals damage from erosion to our coastline is growing every year.

Dashed dreams

Just off the coast of Barrow in Furness lies Walney Island.

It is here that Colin Chadburn lives in his dream home in a caravan park.

He bought it to be close to the sea, but in recent years, that sea has been throwing up huge boulders.

And when it is stormy, they are getting uncomfortably close to home.

Colin says:" We're getting increasing storms and the sea throws up huge rocks which crash into our homes.

"The sea seems to be getting closer and closer. It is not a nice place to be during a storm."

Grave situation

Sea and cliffs
Erosion is the hidden power of the sea

Colin is not the only one with problems.

Down the coastline at Heysham, the graves at St Peter's church have become unnervingly lively.

Rev David Tickner says: "Our graveyard is being steadily eroded by the sea - the soil is being leached down into the sea. It is certainly a growing problem and one that concerns us greatly."

Unsurprisingly Blackpool is not of a mind to let nature take its course.

The resort, which has a population of more than 140,000, is spending £80m revamping its Victorian sea defences.

John Donnellon from the Council says: "The kind of defences we are putting in place are designed to lessen the impact and the power of the waves. It's probably the best defence of its kind throughout Europe."

Receding coastline

Some critics say that the defence at Blackpool means the sea will simply move along the coast and wreak its destruction elsewhere.

But it is not something that worries the National Trust which owns a major stretch of coastline at Formby.

They favour the concept of managed retreat there - even though this may mean the loss of their car park in a few years.

The coastline is receding at a rate of four metres a year at Formby

But to some extent, they are prepared to let nature take its course.

Mighty cliffs are susceptible to a watery enemy

Andrew Brockbank, from the National Trust says: "The challenge is learning to live with the sea.

"This area is changing dramatically, but change brings positives as well and we favour an approach that helps manage that change."

Everyone who lives along this coastline has a different idea about what should be done with it, which is why the consultation exercise has been set up.

No one area can act without it impacting on an area further along the coast, so the argument is that the whole area has to have a co-ordinated plan.

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