Physical management of the coast attempts to control natural processes such as erosion and longshore drift. Hard engineering options tend to be expensive, short-term options. They’re highly effective in the short-term, but unlike natural soft engineering strategies, they may have little to no effect in the long-term. These strategies may also have a high (and generally negative) impact on the landscape or environment and be unsustainable.

Seawalls are walls put in place along the coastline which aim to prevent the sea eroding an area of land along the coast by providing a barrier which reflects wave energy. They are a method of hard engineering. Seawalls protect the bases of cliffs, land and buildings against erosion in areas where rapid coastal erosion is beginning to pose a serious threat to settlement. These walls can even prevent coastal flooding in some areas.

They form a defining line between sea and land, and are frequently used in locations where further shore erosion will result in damage of important and valued land or properties, e.g. when roads and buildings are about to fall into the sea. The increasing popularity in coastal settlement, driven by the desire to be beside the sea, is only heightening this issue.

Seawalls are typically, heavily engineered structures and are generally expensive to construct and require proper design and construction supervision. The physical form of these structures is highly interchangeable; seawalls can be vertical or sloping and constructed from a wide variety of materials.

However, as with all hard engineering coastal strategies, seawalls also have many disadvantages to them. They are highly expensive to build, and the cost of maintenance is also staggering as the wall erodes over time. Curved seawalls reflect the energy of the waves back to the sea, meaning that the waves remain powerful.

But it is not to be denied that this is one of the most effective strategies out there. A flood defence scheme has been implemented in Blackpool and its seawalls are regarded as one of the best ways to cope with natural disasters in the UK. The state-of-the-art scheme taking shape on the Promenade is said to be "much more effective" than existing defences across the UK.

It is hoped that the scheme will put an end to home and business owners having to shell out thousands of pounds in insurance claims every year due to storm force conditions and will lead the way for other coastal towns to protect their homes and businesses.

The £63m coastal defence scheme will see the replacement of two kilometres of defences from Rossall Hospital to Rossall Point, protecting 7,500 properties and businesses from the risk of flooding and erosion along the beach, providing essential defence against the waves. The coastal defence design is not only much more effective than the existing defences, it has also been designed to enhance the seafront experience as the stepped units will allow easy access to the beach.

Extensive research was carried out to ensure that the new sea wall was not only a very attractive means of reconnecting the Promenade with the beach but also acted as a reliable and durable defence system.

Could we take example from Blackpool's new defence scheme?