BNSC is currently working with the Lancaster City Council (LCC) to put together an ITT for an implementation test project, under the BNSC GIFTSS initiative, as a Customer Partnership Project (CPP). As a first step, we wish to be able to identify those companies, organisations or teams who have the suitable skills and facilities to undertake the project. 

There are over 2000 houses and properties in Morecambe and Heysham that are susceptible to flooding during storm events. Serious flooding occurred in November 1977, in February 1983 and in February 1990. The improvement of the town’s coastal defences commenced after the 1977 event but the altered direction of the 1983 storm resulted in a reconsideration of the best approach. Such reconsideration was also prompted by planning restrictions on the increase in height to existing sea walls which limited the scope of direct sea wall improvements regarding overtopping during flood events. Following the 1983 event work was carried out to improve understanding of how storms were generated across the Bay.

There are over 100 square miles of drying banks and channels at low water within the Bay and over 100 miles of open sea beyond the mouth of the Bay across which winds can build waves to enter the Bay area. [Morecambe Bay is taken to extend landwards from a line joining Walney Island southwards to Rossall Point (Fleetwood), to approximately 1 km inland of the Bay shoreline and upstream in the estuaries to the tidal limit.] Although the banks are submerged at high tide, the low water channels remain as deep-water pathways. Previous studies showed that the orientation and disposition of these pathways was critical for the exposure of the Morecambe shoreline during storm events. Historic data on channel locations were sparse so although the present scheme is designed to improve protection against known circumstances there remains concern that other configurations of channels could occur that worsened shoreline exposure thereby reducing the efficiency of the defence improvements.

There is therefore an important need to monitor channel and bank changes across Morecambe Bay in order to understand their behaviour and allow prediction of their future courses – this will inform shoreline managers so that necessary procedures can be put in hand ahead of storm events to mitigate any increased hazards from shoreline exposure changes.

At the present time the Lancaster City Council relies on vertical aerial photography with digital data processing linked with some hydrographic survey work to provide data on channel and bank changes. This approach is vulnerable to inclement weather conditions, time of tidal low water and daylight hours. If the use of satellite imagery can substitute for or enhance the database from vertical aerial photography then there is the potential for achieving better value from investments in the monitoring programme and thereby improving the service of flood risk mitigation to be offered to the township of Morecambe.

Morecambe Bay is also an internationally important part of the Natura 2000 project. Natura 2000 is the European Union-wide network of nature conservation sites being established under the Council Directive on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (92/43/EEC) -‘The EC Habitats Directive’. Natura 2000 will comprise Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) designated under that Directive and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) classified under the Council Directive on the conservation of wild birds (79/409/EEC) -‘The EC Wild Birds Directive’. Morecambe Bay carries the cSAC and SPA designations, is also a RAMSAR site and contains many SSSI’s. Low water channel movements can have significant impacts on habitats and the project would also provide invaluable data for the Conservation agencies.