The value of a beach
Having been lucky enough to visit two of the most famous (arguably) surfing beaches in the UK and Australia recently I was left thinking about their value.
First was the newly opened Surf Snowdonia, a man-made artificial wave garden in north Wales. Whilst the UK has many surfing beaches, how many can boast of near perfect conditions, left and right hand breaks, and a constant 150m long wave that you can catch every 5 or so minutes? Calculating the value I received when visiting the 'beach' was easy, as I paid an entry fee of around $60 AUD. Fast forward two weeks and I am standing on the shores of the Gold Coast, Australia, only this time there were no waves at all. However, even with no surf and no entry fee the beach still provided me with a day out, with the local cafes the clear winner. And herein lies the question: how can we put a value on a non-surfing beach?
Luckily, this question has been with me for a while! JBP, in addition to JBA Consulting and the JBA trust, have recently supported Griffith University's Industrial Affiliates Programme (IAP) to answer exactly that. For the last four months Courtney Wharton, a final year BEng student, has been putting together a number of Australia and International practises to develop an approach to value non-surfing beaches.
We considered tangible values such as assets and infrastructure constructed within the beach foreshore, and the properties protected against extreme coastal processes (such as erosion and wave overtopping) due to its protective capabilities. More difficult were the intangible elements that would be lost if the beach did not exist, such as the income drawn by tourism and day trippers. Importantly, it also includes an approach to value the public amenity by local residents, which considers the value the beach adds to the local community.
We tested the methodology on a local beach at Redcliffe, QLD, to support future investment planning and answer the question of how much should we invest in coastal protection over time. The study found the total value added to the local community approached $100M over a 50 year period - quantifying what we already knew: that although they are a free resource our beaches provide us with a great value.
Now completed, the methodology is available for economic assessments, cost:benefit studies, and justification for future investment in coastal protection. Just get in touch to find out more.