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.
The main objective of a SMP is to identify sustainable long-term management policies for the coast. It is inevitable that the plans will recommend changes to the current approach in some areas, however, they will help manage these so that the people, places, industry and wildlife affected can adapt at a reasonable pace. This approach avoids tying future generations into inflexible and expensive options for defence.
Shoreline Management Plans - The First Round
The first round of SMP's (now termed SMP1) were completed by 2000.
These SMP's 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.
Who Produces Shoreline Management Plans?
In England, Shoreline Management Plans were initially promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF). However in 2001 MAFF was disbanded and these responsibilities were transferred to a new government department; the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
The production of a specific SMP (or Review) for a coastline, is overseen by the Maritime Local Authorities and the Environment Agency (both known as the operating authorities), working in partnership with other members of the coastal advisory group.
Generally the actual policy document is delivered on behalf of these organisations by a coastal engineering consultancy.
What sections of coast are covered?
The shoreline has been divided into major sediment cells and the identification of the boundaries of these major sediment cells has been based on natural coastal process behaviour.
There are 11 major sediment cells around the coast of Wales and England and these have been sub-divided for the purpose of coastal defence management into Sediment Sub-Cells.
Sediment sub-cells are discrete lengths of shoreline bounded by either headlands or estuaries and define the limits of each Shoreline Management Plan.
How were the SMP1's prepared?
The gathering of information and consultation with a wide range of interested parties were fundamental elements to the plan preparation. The Plan production was divided into stages with public consultation exercises at each stage.
This approach provided opportunities for consul tees and members of the public to become involved in plan preparation and broaden the ownership of the plan.
What were the stages in plan preparation?
Stage 1 Document - To gather information and present data in text form with illustrations of the whole sub cell to provide a strategic view.
Stage 1 Consultation - To inform consultees identified in scoping exercise, and place the Stage 1 document on public display. The consultation details were advertised in the local press and arrangements were made for a seminar to discuss the SMP issues with consultees, interested parties and individuals.
Stage 2 Document - The preparation of a Draft Shoreline Management Plan, based upon smaller sections of shoreline know as Management Units.
Stage 2 Consultation - As stage 1 consultation including a seminar.
What did we get from the Shoreline Management Plans?
Management Units and Policy Options; The SMP provided policies for the management of individual or discrete sections of coastline known as Management Units which were determined using criteria such as land use, coastal assets, coast edge/shore type, geography and shoreline orientation.
The guidance provided four principal policy options for consideration at management unit level. The options refer to the movement of the shoreline resulting from each policy option and are listed as follows:
HOLD THE EXISTING LINE
ADVANCE THE EXISTING LINE
What is the future for the plan?
It is anticipated that the Shoreline Management Plan will NOT provide a set of policies for all management units in perpetuity. An SMP is designed to identify gaps in knowledge and present a list of recommended studies and a monitoring package that will eventually fill these gaps. An SMP is therefore a living document that is able to accommodate new information and change. This process is achieved by a review procedure that is undertaken initially in five years.
Do we need these Studies and Monitoring of the shoreline?
Studies and regular monitoring improve our understanding of the shoreline and directly contribute to the goal of adopting sustainable policies for coastal defence. Monitoring also enables managing Authorities to be informed about the general health and therefore the vulnerability of each section of shoreline by measuring changes in trend behaviour on a regular basis.
This informed approach to coastal management will reduce the risk of surprise and costly failures during storm events and will enable a more cost-effective system that identifies emerging problems.The success of the informed approach promoted by the Shoreline Management Plan philosophy will be dependent upon the linking of the various elements described above.