Follow our e-learning course.

Develop your own coastal adaptation strategy by learning key methodologies and techniques.

The IMCORE project ran from 2008 to 2011 and was funded under the EU Interreg IVB programme.

VIDEO: Rhoda Ballinger, from Cardiff University, explains the complexity of the Severn Estuary

 "We've learnt the value of tapping into local knowledge and expertise"                                                            Rhoda Ballinger
"'We have relished the opportunity to further our engagement and outreach on climate change adaptation in the Severn Estuary".                            Paul Parker


Education Pack "Adapting to Climate Change in Wales"

Research Advisory Group reports (SECCRAG)

Summary of the Severn Estuary Scenarios

Results from Delphi Survey

Access or download overviews, tools, techniques and examples of visualisation tools, educational tools, legal and policy tools, future scenario techniques, etc

Practical tips for following the IMCORE approach to planning to adapt to coastal climate change 

guidance4The Expert Couplet developed well and the IMCORE programme evolved to provide a useful output to the Severn Estuary community. The IMCORE process on the Severn also enabled key current (local authority planners) and future stakeholders (school children) around the estuary to learn more about climate change and to question their ideas and develop a better understanding about climate change adaptation.

Through this, previous and other INTERREG projects (e.g. DeltaNet) a symbiotic relationship between both partners of the Expert Couplet has evolved. Clear benefits for both partners are recognized and valued by both parties. Such benefits are reviewed and tabulated regularly (see box below). However, there have been issues associated with staff turnover within SEP which have hampered the full development of the Expert Couplet. The economic predicament of local councils and associated restrictions has also hindered the development of some elements of the relationship and programme.

The Severn Estuary Expert Couplet: Severn Estuary Partnership & Cardiff University Benefits

University benefits

The Severn Estuary Partnership:

  •  provides a 'living laboratory/experiment' for research into coastal science-policy integration, planning and management
  •  provides a unique opportunities for applied research, including Severn Estuary-related PhD research projects
  •  enables the production of practically as well as academically sound research including conference papers and many articles and special issues of international journals
  •  has facilitated the development of joint information management systems, including access to databases as well as research and policy documentation (e.g. Severn Estuary Citation database),
  •  facilitates access to relevant research data
  •  enhances the educational experience of undergraduate and postgraduate students through training opportunities, contacts and input to relevant modules
  •  facilitates better engagement of the research group with the practitioner and policy community
  •  raises the profile of the School and Cardiff University within the local community
  •  increases research credibility and promotion of the research group. This has helped gain additional research contracts and invitation onto various national and European committees


Severn Estuary Partnership benefits:

The University:

  •  is a neutral host - very important in the context of SEP's role in promoting sustainable development
  •  provides credibility for SEP outputs
  •  builds on and has access to good quality research advice and associated research contacts
  •  can work with the SEP to provide a relevant research agenda, filling knowledge gaps and answering critical and current policy problems
  •  provides office space
  • provides access to university administrative and IT assistance


IMCORE Process

Focus of Severn Estuary IMCORE process

As a result of discussions within the Severn Estuary Expert Couplet (Cardiff University and the Severn Estuary Partnership), particularly within the SEP Working Group we agreed that the INTERREG IVB IMCORE project on the Severn Estuary should focus on climate change adaptation for local planning authorities and should have a strong education element. The particular interest in planning authorities was due to the recognition of the important role of these bodies in guiding future land use and development decisions. The previous INTERREG IIIB COREPOINT project had highlighted the potential for increased flood risk on the low-lying and potentially vulnerable shores of the estuary (Sections 1.3 and 1.4). The local planning authority focus also reflected the wider IMCORE project's focus at the local government level. The decision to concentrate on education grew out of a clear recognition of the importance of raising awareness of climate change science and adaptation options in local school children, particularly as they are tomorrow's decision makers and will also have to live and cope with the implications of today's planning decisions.

The Severn Estuary IMCORE focus

  • Climate change adaptation and local planning around our Estuary
  • Educating future decision-makers, our Estuary's school children


Aims of Severn Estuary process:

On the Severn Estuary the aims of the project were:

• Increasing awareness of climate change impacts and adaptation options

• Encouraging joint working and improved interaction between scientists and policy makers

• Informing and developing guidelines to assist with the identification of adaptation options

These aims reflect issues previously identified associated with context for climate change adaptation on the Severn Estuary (Section 1.3), notably those associated with:

  •  uncertainties related to the science and characteristics of the climate change drivers on the estuary
  •  gaps in information relating to impacts in some key sectors
  •  the complexity of organisations and plans on the Estuary
  •  the contrasting approaches to adaptation and use of differing climate change projections by local authorities and other related bodies
Severn process_v1


Key elements of the Severn Estuary work programme

The main work streams and outputs are shown in the image above with the main components of the IMCORE Severn programme relating to these aims briefly outlined below.

Increasing awareness of climate change impacts and adaptation options

This was achieved by:

1. Enhancing and better communicating the science base on climate change for estuary planning and management.

o The identification of climate change issues and has been achieved through the development of the:

  • Severn Estuary Climate Change Advisory Group (SECCRAG)
  • Severn Estuary Climate Change Citation database

o The production and dissemination of simplified versions of climate change science and impacts has been achieved through widely publicising and disseminating the following to key stakeholders:

  • Climate change report cards on key climate change science and impacts
  • Evaluation of previous extreme weather events on the estuary and human responses to these events to inform future adaptation options

2. Developing dissemination materials on climate change and its impacts on the estuary widely to key stakeholders. This included:

  • Exploratory scenarios illustrating future adaptation contexts
  • The State of the Severn Estuary report

3. Developing education materials and activities on climate change and its impacts on the estuary. This included:

  • The development of an education pack for Key Stage 4 (ages 14 – 16)
  • Involvement in school workshops on climate change adaptation with school children (ages 14 – 16) in the Severn Estuary and elsewhere in Wales



Encouraging joint working and improved interaction between scientists and policy makers

This was achieved by:

1. Frequent communication of Severn Expert Couplet progress to a wide policy and research community. This included:

  • SEP Severn Tidings and e-news
  • Presentations at the annual Severn Estuary Forums and SEP Joint Advisory Committees and Management Group meetings
  • Presentations at professional conferences, including a Royal Town Planning Institute conference.

2. Severn Estuary events involving both researchers and policy makers including the Severn Estuary Forums and SECCRAG workshops. These enabled discussion and debate between scientists and policy makers.

3. Close dialogue between Cardiff University researchers and SEP Management Group


Informing and developing guidelines to assist with the identification of adaptation options

In addition to the activities noted above, the Severn Estuary guidelines were also informed by:

1. Stocktaking corporate and planning responses to climate change and evaluating policy needs in coastal planning, through:

  • Planning surveys and a supplementary Delphi survey
  • Interviews with planning officers around the estuary


2. Developing adaptation guidelines for planning through:

  • Development of exploratory scenarios
  • Workshops with local authorities
  • An estuary-wide workshop


Summary of the main stages of the Severn IMCORE process

Whilst the Severn Estuary process has been long and complex, it can be summarised in three main stages.

  •  The first stage, the characterization of climate change issues, built on previous work within the INTERREG IIIB COREPOINT project, and involved discussion and debate of the issues by various groups of stakeholders, including the Severn Estuary Partnership Management Group and the wider and more academic Severn Estuary Climate Change Research Advisory Group and Surveys. In deciding to focus on planning issues, particularly associated with flood risk and development, planning officers were also involved in identifying planning issues related to climate change in an estuary-wide survey.
  •  The second stage, the development of the Severn Estuary exploratory scenarios involved a couple of estuary workshops with key stakeholders, a more detailed Delphi survey with the planning community to investigate key planning concerns and adaptation possibilities. The initial draft scenarios once completed by in-house staff were subsequently tested through a series of internal and external expert reviews.
  •  The third and final stage, the development of the Severn estuary adaptation guidelines built on the exploratory scenarios, investigating issues and actions emanating from the scenarios within a series of internal and external expert reviews as well as workshops with selected local authorities. The final guidelines were also informed by a wider review of adaptation guidelines from elsewhere. 

    Expert Couplet presentation given in Ghent


Expert Couplet

The Severn Expert Couplet consists of the Marine and Coastal Environment (MACE) Research Group within Cardiff University and the Severn Estuary Partnership (SEP). This Expert Couplet has a long history, with links between MACE and SEP dating back to the mid 1990s when SEP became hosted by the university. The Expert Couplet was strengthened considerably through the previous INTERREG IIIB COREPOINT project which researched and promoted better Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the estuary. In the last few years, the INTERREG IVB IMCORE project has enabled further development of the relationship, focusing on climate change adaptation.

Vision of the Couplet

Whilst IMCORE's overall vision on the Severn Estuary was to provide a strategy for informing the development of climate change adaptation on the Severn Estuary, in terms of the couplet itself it was considered that the project would not only enable the development of an even closer working relationship, but would also facilitate the establishment of links with other academic institutions around the estuary.


• To enhance the capacity for climate change adaptation in the Severn Estuary area

• To encourage joint working and improved interaction between scientists and policy makers

Working together it was anticipated that the Severn Expert Couplet would facilitate the development of more informed SEP actions and projects, including a State of the Estuary report.


Given the broad nature of climate change adaptation and climate change impacts on the estuary, we considered it necessary to bring in other academic expertise, outside of Cardiff University. This was partly a reason for the establishment of the Severn Estuary Climate Change Research Advisory Group (SECCRAG) within COREPOINT and its maintenance throughout the IMCORE project.

This learning portal brings together the results and lessons learned from the IMCORE project. This project was funded under the Interreg IVB programme from 2008 to 2011.

 footertransparent updated