Assessing the impact of landfill sites on Welsh Coastal MPA features

Helping NRW characterise the threat posed by coastal landfill sites to habitats and species in the MPA network

There are over 1,500 individual landfill sites recorded in Wales. Many of these are located at the coast and sit within or adjacent to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which contain habitats and species vulnerable to landfill materials such as asbestos, plastics, and inorganic and organic contaminants.

To inform the management of these pressures on the Welsh MPA network, Nature Resources Wales (NRW) commissioned ABPmer to:

  • Assess the risk of waste being released from the coastal landfill sites
  • Assess the vulnerability of MPA habitat features to waste if released from coastal landfill sites
  • Produce a list of prioritised landfill sites which pose the greatest threat to MPA features
  • Review potential management measures used to reduce the potential release of waste from landfill sites or the impact of waste of habitats and species

To determine the risk of waste being released from the landfill sites, our specialists characterised each site based on several factors, including the potential level of flooding and erosion in the area, and the presence and condition of coastal defences.

The vulnerability of the MPA habitat features was then assessed based on the potential pressures likely to arise from the different landfill waste types, the distance at which the pressures could have an impact, and the potential sensitivity of features to each pressure.

These two stages were combined to determine an overall score for the threat each landfill site poses to habitat features.

This assessment was repeated for the three epochs: present day (2005 – 2025), the medium-term future (2025 – 2055) and the long-term future (2055 – 2105), to identify the change in threat over time.

Our specialists delivered their findings in a report, “Investigating the impact of landfill sites at the coast on Marine Protected Area features in Wales”.

NRW will use the report to prioritise further actions in the MPA network, increase their understanding of the effects of the effects that coastal landfill sites are having, or could have on the features, and agree effective management solutions to reduce these impacts.

To download the full report, visit the NRW website.

Header photo courtesy NRW

ABPmer routinely advises marine sectors on regulatory and policy matters and has a long history supporting government and its agencies in developing the evidence base against which policy decisions are made.

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