Landslide management in the UK—the problem of managing hazards in a ‘low-risk’ environment

Abstract

The UK is a country with limited direct experience of natural disasters. Whilst landslide losses are not negligible and fatalities are rare, accounts are under-reported. Financial losses from landslides are poorly understood but likely to be considerably in excess of £10 million per year. As a result, a strategic management framework has evolved based upon small, low-impact events punctuated by occasional larger events or larger landslides affecting urban areas. We present an overview of the different landslide management mechanisms in the UK and discuss them in context of cases studies to explore their effectiveness. We conclude with three issues that may have implications for landslide management in the UK and other low-risk countries. Firstly, the evidence base by which landslide hazards and risks are measured is insufficient and limitations in existing information need to be better understood. Secondly, existing guidance on strategic and responsive management needs to be assessed for its fitness for purpose. Thirdly, we encourage debate about the importance of near misses.

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Acknowledgments

This paper is published with the permission of the Executive Director of the British Geological Survey (NERC). The authors would also like to extend their thanks to the two anonymous reviewers for their candid views, helpful comments and factual contributions to the paper.

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Gibson, A.D., Culshaw, M.G., Dashwood, C. et al. Landslide management in the UK—the problem of managing hazards in a ‘low-risk’ environment. Landslides 10, 599–610 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-012-0346-4

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Keywords

  • Management
  • Land-use planning
  • Responsive planning
  • Near misses