We use public money as effectively as possible to reduce the risk to coastal communities, their property, infrastructure and the natural environment. Decisions on where to defend are based on risk assessment using a transparent, auditable and understandable process.
This process starts with developing preferred management options in a long-term Shoreline Management Plan.
Factors we consider include:
- Number of households at risk.
- Number of deprived households at risk.
- Impact of our actions on agricultural land and the farming community.
- Impact of our actions on the environment and wildlife.
- Whether erosion affects local community infrastructure and transport.
- Cost of building and maintenance.
For each stretch of coast, four management options are considered when developing Shoreline Management Plans:
- Hold the existing defence line - maintain or change the standard of any existing coastal defence.
- Advance the existing defence line - new defences on seaward side.
- Managed re-alignment - shoreline and defences adjust position in a controlled way.
- No active intervention - no investment in coastal defence.
When holding the existing defence line, many factors need to be considered - for example, whether or not to take sea level rise into account, and how long defences will be sustainable or affordable. In some locations, investment in defences may cease in future to allow for managed change of the shoreline.
In each case the options are considered carefully by Coastal Groups, and discussed widely before any decision is reached.
Areas surrounding coastal defences
When considering a particular coastal scheme, we also carefully assess the possibility of making things worse elsewhere. Sophisticated monitoring techniques and computer modeling identify the stretches of coastline that interact most strongly with each other such as through the exchange of sediments and the effects of water currents. Analysing these 'coastal cells' helps predict the impact of possible coastal defence measures.