Shoreline Management Plans


What is a Shoreline Management Plan (SMP)?

A Shoreline Management Plan is a non-statutory policy document for coastal defence management planning. It takes account of other existing planning initiatives and legislative requirements, and is intended to inform wider strategic planning. It does not set policy for anything other than coastal defence management.

SMP's are an important part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair's strategy for flood and coastal defence, and should inform, and be supported by, the statutory planning process.

An SMP aims to provide a broad large-scale assessment of the risks associated with coastal evolution and to balance the management of coastal flooding and erosion risks associated with coastal processes such as waves and tides. It then aims to present a policy framework to address the risks to people and the developed, historic and natural environment in a sustainable manner over the next 100 years.

What are the SMP policies?

 Below are the four standard policies considered in SMP's;

 Hold the line:  Maintain or change the standard of protection provided by defences.

 Advance the line:  Build new defences on the seaward side of the original defences.

 Managed realignment: Allow the shoreline to move backwards or forwards, with management to control or limit movement.

 No active intervention (Do nothing): No investment in coastal defences or operations.

How long does an SMP last?

SMP's consider coastal objectives, policies and management over 100 years and are divided in to the 3 epochs (time periods) listed below. An SMP is reviewed every ten years to ensure it utilises the most up to date and accurate information.

Epoch 1

Years 0-20

Epoch 2

Years 20-50

Epoch 3

Years 50-100

Present Day

Medium Term

Long Term

Long-term monitoring of coastal processes has increased our understanding of how the coastal systems function in conjunction with how defences interact with these natural processes. It is now recognised that the coast is extremely dynamic and continually evolving; the extent and rate of coastal change is due in part to the degree of exposure of the coast to waves and tides, and the local geology. These advances in understanding have resulted in the need for a long-term, strategic approach to coastal defence management.

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