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Shoreline Management Plans

What is a Shoreline Management Plan (SMP)?

A shoreline management plan (SMP) is a large-scale report, assessing the risks associated with coastal processes. It aims to help reduce these risks to people, property and the historic and natural environment. In doing so, it is an important part of the Government’s strategy for managing flooding and coastal erosion.

The assessment (Plan) aims to manage risks by using a range of methods which reflect both national and local priorities, in order to:

In 1995, the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and the Welsh Office published guidance for operating authorities (such as maritime local authorities and the Environment Agency) on preparing SMPs. It was necessary for the majority of these operating authorities to work with neighbouring authorities, as "voluntary coastal groups", to produce an SMP as they spanned a number of administrative boundaries. In all cases, one operating authority was named as a lead authority to have overall responsibility for producing the SMP.

Shoreline Management Plans - The First Round

The first round of SMPs (now known as SMP1) were completed by 2000. These SMPs were based on sediment cells, lengths of coastline within which the movement of sand and shingle along the coast is largely self-contained. The boundaries of these cells were originally set at locations where the movement of sand and shingle changes direction. At some places, however, the area covered by an SMP differed from these sediment cell boundaries, due to different requirements, such as the area covered by a coastal authority.

Shoreline Management Plans 2 - The Review

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a set of High Level Targets (HLTs), which it has asked operating authorities to work to achieve. One of these targets - HLT3, is for the SMPs to be reviewed by March 2010.

For the SMP2 reviews, the recommended approach is to look at how and why the coast changes - known as a behavioural systems approach. This approach was developed as part of the Futurecoast project ( Halcrow 2002) and focuses on understanding the interactions and linkages that exist within a coastal system and then using that knowledge to develop the overall framework.

Since the completion of SMP1, many operating authorities have followed the recommendations of their SMP as a basis for producing (where necessary) individual strategy plans, monitoring programmes, carrying out studies for all or parts of their coastline, and for putting appropriate schemes into practice