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SWEEP: Beach Hazard Forecasting in Crantock Beach, Cornwall



SWEEP’s localised OWWL models have been used to tackle a variety of issues including:

  1. Crantock beach safety – Crantock is a popular beach on the north coast of Cornwall that has several significant bathing hazards, including rip currents, estuarine currents, headland boundary rip currents, and powerful breaking waves. The RNLI have been at Crantock since 2001. They have seen a steep rise in safety incidences with rescue and incident assist figures of less than 40 pa in 2014, to over 190pa in 2018; including two fatalities when lifeguards were not present. The lifeguard service is under increasing pressure and is keen to benefit from new innovations that deliver improved hazard data, and more effective methods of communicating this to the public, to enable better decisions about how to use the water safely.

  2. Isles of Scilly seagrass restoration – Seagrass beds are hugely important from a natural capital perspective. Not only do they harbour a wide variety of wildlife, they provide vital ecosystem services such as carbon storage. Capturing carbon at a rate 35 times faster than tropical rainforests, they are one of the most important natural solutions to the climate crisis. However, seagrass has declined drastically during the last century. Much of this is due to increased human disturbance such as pollution, dredging, mobile fishing gear and coastal development. The Isles of Scilly, are home to the main surviving UK seagrass habitats but even these are under threat, declining in both extent and quality.


This SWEEP project is exactly the sort of work RNLI like to align with. We’ve been impressed not only with the well-researched, cutting edge science the team have brought to this forecasting tool, but the professional way in which they have thoroughly tested and validated the data with local knowledge and experience, and worked with us to track and evidence impact.

- Adrian Carey, RNLI


The South West Partnership for Environmental and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP) is a major Natural Environment Research Council impact programme (2017‐2022), which connects expertise at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth and Plymouth Marine Laboratory with a large group (200+) of highly‐engaged regional and national businesses, policy makers and community partners.


The natural environment, economy and people are all interconnected and interdependent. This film provides real-world examples of how the Natural Capital Approach can be adopted, whereby nature is brought into the heart of decision making. The South West economy is heavily dependent on a healthy, well-managed, natural environment, and the SWEEP approach has directly benefited business, the economy and people in the South West.

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