Engineers have always appreciated that a civil engineering project should be based on a clear understanding of the geomorphology of the site of the proposed works. It is an old ‘game’!

However, although it is good practice to take full account of the morphology and processes of the landscape during an investigation there is a tendency to restrict the work to basic mapping and identification of features rather than a true understanding of the site in space and time. Particular criticisms are that not enough attention is paid to the effects of landform change, the identification of inherited material conditions, the frequency and magnitude of processes and the nature of risk. Ways of improving the service are identified.

It is suggested that future work should be based on a full understanding of the conceptual basis for modern geomorphology. In the past thirty years there has been a revolution in the theoretical basis of the subject as well as a remarkable improvement in the technical capability. A major statement is therefore made on the nature of geomorphology and this is then summarized as a possible conceptual basis for application to engineering and planning.

The theme of the paper will be illustrated by a description of the Lyme Regis Environmental Improvements Scheme in West Dorset which is in the design stage and has been based on a full understanding of the geomorphology and geology of the area and the employment of a Geo-Team at all stages of the project.

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