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Shoreline Management Plans

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) is a strategy for managing flood and erosion risk for a particular stretch of coastline, over short, medium and long-term periods. SMPs identify the best ways to manage coastal flood and erosion risk to people and the developed, historic and natural environment. They also identify opportunities where shoreline management can work with others to make improvements.

Review of Shoreline Management Plans

About 10 years ago the first round of SMPs were completed for the entire length of the coastline of England and Wales. Since then, considerable work has been undertaken both in managing defences around the coast and in building a better understanding of the issues and behaviour of the coast through studies and monitoring. This first round of SMPs have been reviewed to take account of updated information.

Who is involved with SMPs?

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils are the coast protection authorities, with powers to undertake coast protection works (protection against coastal erosion and encroachment by the sea). They are the bodies, under the Coast Protection Act 1949, who have a duty to regulate coast protection works undertaken by other organisations and individuals.

The Environment Agency (EA) is the authority responsible for sea defence (management of coastal flood risk). It also has an overview, or supervisory, role with respect to both sea defence and coast protection. These three organisations work in partnership with each other and with all those that have an interest and responsibility along the Suffolk coast. These include Natural England, with their advisory role on nature conservation, Suffolk County Council, English Heritage and the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit.

These plans are a requirement of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) - the Government organisation with responsibility for coast management.

A SMP subdivides the coastline into discrete units, each of which has a unifying characteristic. Policies are allocated to these units for each of three periods, or "epochs", forming the plan period. These are up to year 2025, 2026 to 2055, and 2056 to 2105.

The policies are drawn from the following options:

  • No Active Intervention (NAI)
  • Advance the Line (ATL)
  • Hold the Line (HTL)
  • Managed Realignment (MR)

There are three SMPs covering the Suffolk coast.

The original SMP for the coast north of Lowestoft Ness to Kelling was produced in 1996. The first review of this plan was completed in 2006, it proved controversial but has now been approved by all partners.

The lead authority for this plan is NNDC.

The original SMP for the Suffolk coast south of Lowestoft Ness to Felixstowe was produced in 1998. The first review of this plan was completed in early 2010 and has now been approved by all partners. Implementation of recommendations for further studies and works is now being taken forward.

The lead authority for this plan is SCDC.

The SMP for Essex and South Suffolk covers the north side of the Orwell estuary to Two Tree island in Southend and is approved by all partners.

The lead authority for this plan is the EA.

The full documents are available in the East Anglia Coastal Group website.

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