Relocation: Why we never seem to get there

Mr Allan Young1

1EMM Consulting Pty Ltd, St Leonards, Australia


If you are reading this, you are probably someone with an understanding of coastal processes and the challenges we face when a shoreline migrates towards fixed assets. It is called ‘coastal squeeze’. Our three choices when confronted by coastal squeeze are to protect, accommodate or relocate. You might also be aware that sea level rise will amplify that problem.

Most coastal professionals acknowledge that (a) options to accommodate coastal hazards are OK as a short term response and (b) that protection is a popular longer term response but (c) for various technical, financial or environmental reasons, we cannot protect every asset threatened by an encroaching shoreline or inundation.

Logically, we will therefore need to use relocation strategies in some places, at some time.  Maybe in more places and sooner than you think.

Right now, it is hard to even have the idea of relocation contemplated, let alone actually implement it. Yet if it is to be an essential part of the mix for coastal management, this needs to change.

What is holding us back? Why is the ‘marketplace’ for relocation strategies so unsophisticated? How can we prepare the way for the inevitable solution that nobody particularly wants?

With the benefit of a Churchill Fellowship, Allan Young travelled to the US, Caribbean and UK to get some answers.

The presentation will highlight some fundamental steps that will help smooth the way for what we all know will be a difficult journey.


Allan Young is an urban planner with a career background spanning the public and private sector, locally and internationally.

He is currently the Planning Service Leader for EMM Consulting Pty Ltd and previously held senior roles in the NSW Government. He is a coastal planning specialist and his work has been recognised through a Fulbright Scholarship and more recently a Churchill Fellowship. Allan’s research looks at some of the most complex issues confronting coastal managers and then tries to offer some simple practical responses.