Marine & Coastal

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Our specialists provide an integrated approach to the planning, assessment and management of coastal and marine environments to ensure their sustainable use and protection.


Our specialists create sustainable beach designs and assess the environmental impacts of new coastal developments around the world. We provide experienced advice on the adaptive design of coastal defence structures and landforms to prepare for a changing climate. Managing our marine and coastal environment is essential in today’s world.



Coastal development

More than 70% of the world’s population live along coastal plains and will be vulnerable to increases in sea levels. Despite the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicting a worst case scenario of a rise of 59cm by 2100, new evidence shows this estimate may be exceeded twice as fast as predicted.

A changing climate for coastal nations will affect all aspects of modern life for local economies, water resources, flood risk, fisheries and marine habitats. It is important that the impacts of climate change are recognised, resilience built and adaptation strategies are employed.

Coastal strategy

The eight Millennium Development Goals set a framework for the development activities of more than 190 countries. In response to the loss of global biodiversity, land and marine protection is encouraged through these goals. However despite their importance to the sustainability of fish stocks and livelihoods, only 0.7% of the world’s oceans are protected. At Atkins, we feel protection alone is insufficient – all protected areas must also be managed effectively for conservation and incorporate socio-economic factors to secure sustainable livelihoods.

Marine planning – adapting to a changing political environment

The marine spatial planning process is effective at establishing a balance of the conservation of marine resources with the impact of human activities. The process provides a sound understanding of all human activities in marine areas and sets a comprehensive plan to create a more balanced and sustainable approach to marine resource management, including the development of marine renewable energy.

This integrated approach is currently being implemented in the UK.



We create sustainable beach designs and assess the environmental impact of new coastal developments around the world.

Specialist expertise

We provide expertise and advice on the adaptive design of coastal defence structures and landforms to prepare for a changing climate using innovative modelling techniques.

Marine environmental assessment and regulatory compliance

We assist clients to meet regulatory requirements and obtain the necessary permits for intertidal, shoreline or offshore developments. We identify the risks and impacts of human activity on the marine environment and develop measures to mitigate them.

Our marine environmental assessment services include:

  • Coastal/marine EIA or SEA and environmental appraisals
  • Marine habitat surveys
  • Coastal water quality assessments
  • Design of coastal habitat re-creation, restoration and translocation of species/habitats

Strategic coastal and marine planning

Our team conducts studies and provides strategic advice on coastal and marine management to inform the planning process which helps to clarify objectives, set priorities and direct decision-making.

Our range of strategic studies and planning support includes:

  • Coastal strategy studies (UK)
  • Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM)
  • Shoreline management plans (SMPs)
  • Marine spatial planning
  • Coastal emergency planning
  • Coastal tourism and resort feasibility studies
  • Coastal resilience assessments

Future beach design and management

We help to maximise the socio-economic benefits that beaches bring through improving existing management practices to creating new safe beaches.

We can:

  • Design new sustainable sand and shingle beaches
  • Conduct beach safety and risk management studies
  • Improve flood defence advice and mitigate coastal erosion
  • Provide emergency planning services
  • Provide geotechnical engineering
  • Provide environmental assessments

For further information, please see our coastal and marine environment brochure


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David Loy
07 Nov 2016

Tidal wetlands are the coastal vegetation communities that exist within the intertidal zone. In Tampa Bay, these emergent tidal wetlands consist of mangrove forests, salt marshes, and salt barrens (salterns) that compete for space in a narrow range of ideal conditions with calm water, low salinity, and flat topography. These emergent tidal wetlands form an important and complex habitat. Not only do they stabilize sediment and help to minimize shoreline erosion, they help take-in pollutants carried in runoff from upland urban areas. These wetlands also provide crucial habitat and provide a food source for much of the bay’s wildlife and provide attachment sites for algae and invertebrate communities, providing a habitat below the water surface for hundreds of recreational and commercially important species of fish, shrimp, crabs, and other shellfish. This includes pink shrimp, menhaden, blue crabs, mullet, red drum, tarpon, and snook. The marsh grasses and mangrove forests above water provide critical feeding, nesting, and sheltering habitat for a variety of birds such as pelicans, cormorants, herons, ibises, spoonbills, and egrets.  To effectively manage the sustainability of these critical coastal habitats in the future, it’s essential that we better understand and quantify the small-scale changes in the plant community and other ecological indicators occurring now, including global sea-level rise and climate change. By studying these changes, we may be able to better characterize and quantify changes in these sensitive coastal habitats on a regional scale. Atkins has worked closely with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) and it’s subcommittee members to

North America ,

Larry Levis
31 Oct 2016

What inspires us to travel is the experience rather than the journey. We crave adventure, excitement, and immersing ourselves in new cultures and new landscapes to escape the drudgery of the mundane. This is especially true for millennials—the fastest growing market for cruise companies and resorts—who tend to value experience over ownership and authenticity over the simulated. Today, the growing challenge for the cruise industry in port development is to strike the right balance between offering an exciting recreational experience, good shopping and dining opportunities, and preserving the authenticity and local experience of the destination—all while seamlessly moving 10,000 guest-tourists through the location.  Atkins has been privileged to help several clients solve this challenge by creating well thought-out destination ports and entertainment districts. We’ve served as designer/program manager on two of the highest-rated new cruiseport destinations in the world—Amber Cove (Maimon, Dominican Republic) and Mahogany Bay (Roatan, Honduras). In addition, Atkins developed an island-wide master plan for Grand Turk (Turks & Caicos), a globally renowned scuba diving and cruise ship destination. Each project serves as a “welcome village” to the thousands of cruise passengers making day-long port-of-call visits, several times a week. Amber Cove: an authentic and inviting portal to a beautiful country The Dominican Republic, the most visited destination in the Caribbean, offers an abundance of natural beauty and historical treasures. The Amber Cove Cruise Terminal was designed to serve as a public space, organized around a central grand piazza, complete with open-air markets where locals come to sell their goods. Unlike the

North America ,

Nick Roberts
18 Mar 2016

Competition is healthy. It keeps us sharp, agile and at the top of our game. But not everything in life is competitive and it is possible to have winners without having to have a loser. London versus the Northern Powerhouse increasingly seems to be debated, and more specifically over the last week this has extended to Crossrail 2 versus High Speed 3 with concerns raised that London gets a new railway whereas the North ‘only’ gets an upgrade to existing infrastructure. For me, it’s never been a choice between London or the Northern Powerhouse. It has to be both. It has to be about the growth of the UK. I’m not pretending that choices are easy but it’s an example of why the government created the National Infrastructure Commission, so they could take a long term, balanced and objective view of the country’s infrastructure needs in order to help make some of these decisions. I was pleased to see that in its first outputs the Commission proposed major schemes in both the North and London, and the Chancellor subsequently announced in the Budget that money will be made available to take forward key recommendations in both. Would I have liked the Budget to include more pump priming for the Northern Powerhouse, on a scale which would give it a real kick start rather than simply bringing forward investments that were planned already? Yes, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the North has got a raw deal. Let’s not

UK & Europe ,

Nick Roberts
16 Mar 2016

The National Infrastructure Commission was set up to take a long term and objective view of our infrastructure needs. The Chancellor’s agreement to take forward key recommendations such as HS3, the Trans-Pennine tunnel, the expansion of capacity on the M62 and Crossrail 2 shows that the system works. The creation of new and improved infrastructure is the means to the end, not the end itself, so the focus needs to be on delivering these schemes quickly in order to start generating the economic benefits we need now. Particularly in the case of the Northern Powerhouse, government spending on new and improved infrastructure will be vital in attracting much needed funding from other sources and delivering the productivity improvements that the government has set out. The influence of technology and data is enabling us to be smarter and more efficient in the way we use and deliver infrastructure. I welcome the funding and commitment to our digital economy and to make trials of driverless cars a reality on our roads by 2017, but would have liked to have seen more. I believe we have a real opportunity for the UK to lead the worldwide digital infrastructure revolution but we have to invest more in ensuring our infrastructure can keep up with the pace that technology is developing and evolving.

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Atkins has provided marine structural and engineering services to the Deer Park Terminal since 2009. To ensure the reliability and continued service to the terminal, we repaired and replaced deteriorated marine structures at Docks 1 and 2, including storm water management improvements and modifications to docking structures. To maintain a high level of service to Vopak’s customers during construction, we provided detailed construction sequencing and scheduling to minimize impact. At the facilities on Docks 3, 4, and 5, we provided engineering and construction management services as the owner’s representative. The renovation of Dock 3 and new construction of Docks 4 and 5 added additional barge dock facilities and increased the total number of ship berths from three to four, mitigating barge dock closures and safeguarding shipment schedules. To ease the significant congestion in Vopak’s limited footprint, a 2-mile rail loop was designed to receive unit trains and store up to 100 rail cars until they could be shuttled to Vopak’s nearby main terminal. Additionally, our team coordinated with pipeline companies to protect an important pipeline corridor that was crossed by the rail track during the design, engineering, and construction management phase of the rail upgrade. Additional work, known as Project ONE, provided program management, master planning, design, and environmental permitting services for three distinct areas: a large inland site, a marine site, and a connecting pipeline corridor. Based on our previous work to add a 2-mile rail loop, we provided construction management services to add a second loop inside of the first rail


In conjunction with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Charleston District, Atkins will prepare the environmental impact statement (EIS) in order to evaluate the project’s potential socioeconomic and natural environmental impacts. Conducted over a period of 5 to 6 years, the EIS will address numerous issues such as sea level rise, scenery impacts, protected species and habitat, socioeconomic issues, transportation impacts, noise and vibration, and air quality. The wharf will encompass more than 2 miles, with the ability to manage eight design vessels at full buildout. The expansive size of this project could impact approximately 54 acres of tidal salt marsh and bottomland hardwood wetlands, where threatened and endangered species exist. Among these and several other issues, Atkins will evaluate the project’s impact and develop ways to mitigate the environmental effects. Developed jointly by the port authorities of Georgia and South Carolina, this bi-state owned and operated marine container terminal will aid projected growth for containerized cargo for a minimum of 25 years and is expected to support economic development in the region, including adding billions in tax revenue and upwards of 1 million jobs.


Since 1989, Atkins has performed a wide range of projects at PortMiami. As program management consultant, we provided on-site marine structural engineering and project management expertise in support of the evaluation, design, engineering, and value engineering of over 5,200 linear feet of deep water combi-wall retrofit and strengthening work, designed to accommodate super post-panamax container vessels of up to 216,000 deadweight tonnage. The combi-wall system is comprised of steel pipe piles measuring up to 48 inches in diameter in combination with intermediate AZ sheet piles. The project included design of new 100- and 150-ton capacity mooring bollards as well as high-energy absorption foam-filled floating fenders. Recently, Atkins completed an in-depth surface and underwater inspection, condition assessment, and structural evaluation of the cruise ship berthing zone seawall located waterside of Cruise Terminal J. The seawall was constructed in 1989 and is made up of 1,487 feet of steel sheet pile combi-wall. Atkins prepared a comprehensive inspection and condition assessment report that addressed the structural integrity aspects of the combi-wall and contained alternatives for long- and short-term repairs, an assessment of feasible restoration methods, and replacement alternative design. Atkins also provided construction engineering and inspection (CEI) services for 6,000 linear feet of active cargo wharves including 800 linear feet of pile-supported mooring dolphins. Atkins self-performed underwater inspection services for a new sheet pile wall in 45 feet of water and oversaw relocation of more than 150 healthy corals from the existing seawall to an on-port recipient area.  

USA , North America ,

This two-berth cruise terminal on the north coast of the Dominican Republic is capable of accommodating up to two post-Panamax cruise vessels, which translates to roughly 10,000 visitors a day. Carnival Corporation estimates eight of its brands will make 140 calls on the port, with 23 ships throughout its first year of operation. In addition to planning, landscape design, architecture, and engineering services for Amber Cove’s structures and amenities, we also designed roadways and the transportation hub that helps visitors take onshore excursions and explore outlying points of interest. The development also includes hillside waterslides overlooking the 5-acre pool/lazy river recreation area, a zipline, a series of shops and restaurants, a destination duty-free shop, and a hilltop food and beverage establishment with a 360-degree ramp access from below. Echoing the culture and existing architecture in the area, we incorporated modern interpretations of historical periods of significance for the Puerto Plata province. Visitors perusing the 25-acre waterfront development will enjoy an architectural nod to the fortified 16th century, classical-colonial 18th century, and Victorian late 19th century in 25 buildings and multiple landscapes. Atkins also incorporated features that promote self-sufficiency and sustainability including rooftop rainwater harvesting, seawater desalination, a wastewater treatment plant to minimize environmental impacts, and backup generators to ensure uninterrupted utility service.

Dominican Republic , North America ,

The 450-foot long pier sits within a highly visible, narrow manmade navigational channel between Miami Beach and Fisher Island. The channel is the main entrance to PortMiami, the world’s leading cruise port and Florida’s largest container port. Approximately 20 million vacationing passengers travel through the channel to vacation destinations such as, Bahamas, Caribbean, and Mexico. Because of the high visibility of the pier, it was important to honor local aesthetics. Atkins carefully considered every facet of the pier’s redesign. 338-feet of designated fishing areas were incorporated. Durable concrete benches and two canopy structures were installed. Aluminum bar grading covers the pier’s subfloor and is topped with Ipe wood in South Pointe’s signature honeycomb pattern. Protecting the local sea life was also a priority. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)-approved, turtle friendly lighting was used throughout the pier to minimize impacts on hatching sea turtles. To protect corals and water quality, Atkins prepared an Avoidance and Minimization Plan (AMP), which served as a guide for the construction contractor to address construction impacts. Corals were relocated to an artificial reef recipient site west of the pier. 29 coral-encrusted rock boulders within the project footprint were also relocated to the same site. Potential water quality impacts were addressed in a turbidity monitoring plan. Complex environmental conditions required permitting approvals from multiple agencies. Land and water rights, held by the City, state, and federal government, had to be updated prior to construction. Atkins used its longstanding relationships and experience with regulatory agencies to ensure all requirements

Dominican Republic , USA ,

We helped the Environment Agency to deliver a beach management scheme at Dawlish Warren at the mouth of the Exe Estuary, with an estimated total project cost of over £14 million.   Dawlish Warren is an important wildlife site, designated as a Site of Special Scientifc Interest, Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation, a Ramsar wetland of international importance and local nature reserve. A key challenge was to enhance the role the sand spit plays as a flood defence to the Exe Estuary but not impact on the conservation features for which it was designated. We were involved in all stages of the scheme including: strategy, project appraisal, outline design, Preliminary Environmental Information Report, detailed design and Environmental Impact Assessment. Dawlish Warren Beach Management Scheme Our key marine and coastal environment services included: Specifcation and management and analysis of required marine surveys, including ecology, UXO and bathymetry Wave, plume and tidal modelling and reporting Water Framework Directive assessment Habitat Regulations Assessment Environmental Impact Assessment Coastal impact study Stakeholder engagement (including 3D printed model of the scheme). The scheme will involve the removal of gabions from the beach to re-mobilise the dunes, beach nourishment using sediment from subtidal sandbanks, repair of groynes to help control the nourishment and development of monitoring and management plans. Used with permission of copyright owner, Environment Agency

UK ,

At Atkins, we’re able to combine decades of deep engineering experience with the tools and techniques of innovation. The work of the Digital Incubator—and our innovation partners Fluxx—helps us to understanding the hype cycle, enabling us to help clients make the most of new technology.  We’re then able to use our global network to empower Clients to work faster and smarter than ever before. For example, we worked to help clients use unmanned aerial vehicles, 3D scanning, data analysis and virtual reality to dramatically improve asset management in large and complex sites.  This video shows geomatics consultants Charlton Bland and Kevin Ballard scanning and analysing complex visual and radar scan data. Multiple data sets can be combined to provide intelligence for decision support; predicting collapses before they happen.   The film shows how this rich 3D mapping can be used in a virtual reality environment for purposes as diverse as staff training or public consultation.   To learn more about digital engineering or book a visit to the Atkins Digital Incubator, contact Gary Wilson:

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We’re providing specialist design and engineering support to help Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay Plc create the world's first power-generating tidal lagoon in Wales, UK. The project will see low carbon electricity generated by closing off a tidal sea area and incorporating hydro turbines through which the sea moves to generate power. With a 320MW installed capacity and 14 hours of reliable generation every day, Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will capture enough renewable energy to power over 155,000 homes for 120 years.  It is also hoped that a blueprint will be established for the rapid roll-out of a new form of home-grown and built, low carbon energy infrastructure in the UK. As the client’s chief engineer, Atkins is producing outline designs for the breakwater, turbine house and ancillary works and supporting the tender process by helping develop documents and reviewing responses and detailed designs. Once a design and build contractor is appointed and construction work starts, scheduled for Spring 2015, we will also provide a range of site supervision, auditing and technical checking services. Further information:

UK & Europe , Group ,




CIRRUSmaps™ is a flexible web mapping platform. It is currently powering Marine Scotland’s National Marine Plan Interactive. The NMPi is an interactive, multi-layered map that enables Marine Scotland to make available the evidence base during the preparation of their draft National Marine Plan. Stakeholders can also store their own data in the system.


For more information on our work and experience in this sector please contact:

UK & Europe

UK general enquiries:

Derek Fenn
Chief engineer
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1792 633570

North America

United States of America
Tel: +1 800 477 7275


In this section you can find thought leadership articles produced by Atkins for the marine and coastal sector.

Title Format Size
Long-term monitoring at the East and West Flower Garden Banks, 2004-2008 pdf 2.1MB

In this section you can find thought leadership articles produced by Atkins for the marine and coastal sector.

Title Format Size
Calmer waters ahead pdf 320KB
A city on the sea pdf 304KB
Riding the tranquil wave pdf 304KB
Island life pdf 352KB
Go with the flow pdf 557KB
The view from here pdf 136KB
Natural forces pdf 202KB


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