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Shoreline Management Plan 7

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) is a large-scale assessment of the risks associated with coastal processes which seeks to reduce these risks to people and the developed, historic and natural environments. The SMP will determine the natural forces which are shaping the shoreline to assess how it is likely to change over the next 100 years, taking account of the condition of existing defences. The SMP will develop policies outlining how the shoreline should be managed in the future, balancing the scale of the risks with the social, environmental and financial costs involved, and avoiding adverse impacts on adjacent coastal areas. Due to the current legislative and funding arrangements, climate change and environmental considerations, it may not be possible to protect, or continue to defend, some land and property from flooding or erosion.

An SMP is a ‘living' document used by the operating authorities and other organisations (e.g. Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC), Waveney District Council (WDC), Environment Agency (EA), Natural England (NE)) to consider the planning and implementation of coastal defences and other maritime works. It is also used by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency when considering applications from the operating authorities to fund various coastal defence works.

A Shoreline Management Plan is a non-statutory document that provides a broad assessment of the long-term risks associated with coastal processes. It offers guidance to coastal engineers and managers to identify and recommend strategic and sustainable coastal defence policy options for particular lengths of coast to reduce these risks to people, the developed and natural environments. SMPs are an important part of the Defra strategy for flood and coastal defence. They must take account of existing planning initiatives and legislative requirements and use the best present knowledge on the possible effects of climate change and sea level rise. The plan should inform, and be supported by, the statutory planning process.

Once the SMP has set sustainable policies for how the shoreline should be managed, the works required to implement the policies are assessed for each stretch of coast, to develop a co-ordinated programme of works.

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What is the aim of the SMP?

The overall aim of the SMP is to set out a plan for a 100 year period indicating how our coastline should be managed, taking into account the wider implications on the neighbouring coastline and the environment.

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Who is preparing the new SMP?

The Lowestoft Ness to Felixstowe Landguard Point Shoreline Management Plan is being reviewed by Royal Haskoning UK Ltd for Suffolk Coastal District Council as lead authority for the operating authorities with responsibility for managing the coastline - Suffolk Coastal District Council, Waveney District and the Environment Agency – in association with Natural England and Suffolk County Council. Terry Oakes Associates Ltd (TOAL) is project managing the development of the new SMP on behalf of SCDC.

A Representative Members Group (RMF) and an officer Client Steering Group (CSG) are responsible for the management, development and adoption of the new SMP, comprising of representatives from the operating authorities and key interest organisations:

• Suffolk Coastal District Council
• Waveney District Council
• Environment Agency
• Suffolk County Council
• Natural England
• British Energy

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How can I get involved?

TOAL has contacted nearly 200 organisations and representatives with an interest in the Suffolk coastline to inform them about the update of the SMP and seek their information and views. These Stakeholders are being sent updates regularly as the plan develops.

The detailed draft proposals will be published in summer 2009. All Residents, Stakeholders and other organisations will be notified of opportunities to talk to the people involved and how to contribute their views to decision-making process.

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Why do we need an SMP?

SCDC, WDC and the EA are required to update the SMP and set sustainable coastal policies to enable access to future funding to reduce coastal risks.

Until relatively recently, coastal defences were constructed on an ad-hoc basis over relatively short lengths of coastline, which did not consider the impact on existing properties, coastal processes or the environment, and often caused erosion and flooding problems down-drift. Increasing pressures on the coastal zone for even more housing, marine trade and industry, and the demand for coast-based recreational activities also influences existing and future coastal defence requirements. 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.

Defra, the government body that sanctions public sector expenditure on coastal defence, now requires economic, environmental and technical assessments to demonstrate the viability of any proposed scheme. The SMP approach builds on our knowledge of the coastal environment, identifies places that are affected or threatened by flooding or erosion, and after extensive consultation with the numerous coastal stakeholders and interest groups, produces technically, economically and environmentally sustainable management policies.

To demonstrate and achieve effective management of the coast, it is essential that neighbouring authorities with coastal responsibilities, in partnership with other agencies, co-operate to develop integrated sustainable policies to avoid piecemeal attempts to protect one area at the expense of another.

The key authorities and agencies along the Suffolk coastline have a long history of working together and have forged strong and effective relationships in the East Anglia Coastal Group, dealing with a number of issues, including coastal defence management.

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Why are we reviewing the SMP?

The first Suffolk SMP was completed in 1998. and the Government requires that all the Shoreline Management Plans for England and Wales are updated as part of a project known as SMP-Round 2, or SMP2. .

A significant change compared with the first SMP is that we are now required to examine the risks looking ahead for one hundred years, instead of fifty years. This is a long time to look ahead, so Defra requires coastal issues to be examined over three time epochs – 0-20 years, 20-50 years and 50-100 years. Policies on coastal defence may change through these periods, affected by the nature of coastal defences present, the pattern of development, the impacts of climate change and other considerations.

Over the past ten years significant progress has been made in understanding and mapping coastal processes. New information produced since the first round of SMPs can provide an improved understanding of our coast. The review requires better consideration of long-term coastal evolution, more emphasis on links with the planning framework, frequent opportunities for stakeholders to contribute, further assessment of effects on the environment and consideration of the predicted impacts of climate change.

The updated SMP builds on the 1998 plan, taking account of new information collected and changing circumstances.

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When will the new SMP be published?

The new Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) for the Suffolk coast is being prepared in 2008 and 2009. The first draft management policies are already posted on this website. These will be reviewed and updated in advance of the three month public consultation on the proposals in summer 2009. The final document will be available later in 2009/2010.

The SMP will be freely available, and all the documents will be available to download in electronic form. Paper copies will also be provided to view at key local authority buildings.

The content of the SMP follows guidelines set out by Defra, the national government department responsible for flood and coastal erosion risk management.

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What is the difference between a Shoreline Management Plan, a Strategy Study and a Scheme?

There are a number of stages that Coast Protection Authorities are required to follow to decide how and where flood and coastal erosion risks can be reduced, summarised in the table below. These enable the authority to seek funding for coastal defence works, where appropriate.

• The large-scale plan is the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP). It sets the policies for managing coastal risks.

• For each stretch of coast a Coastal Defence Strategy Study is produced. The Suffolk coastline is divided into a number of Strategy Study areas. The Strategy identifies appropriate Schemes to put the policies into place, and suggests a co-ordinated programme of work for that stretch of coastline.

• At a local level a Scheme will then develop and implement a coastal defence proposal for a particular location.

Each stage needs an understanding of coastal processes, coastal defence needs, environmental considerations, planning issues and future land use, but in appropriate detail. Assessing risks is important at each stage to ensure decisions are based on an awareness of consequences and are appropriate.

Stage SMP Strategy Scheme
Aim To identify policies to manage risks. To identify appropriate schemes to put the policies into practice. To identify the type of work to put the preferred scheme into practice.
Delivers A wide ranging assessment of risks, opportunities, limits and areas of uncertainty. The preferred approach, including economic and environmental decisions. Compare different options for putting the preferred scheme into practice.
Output . Policies. Type of scheme (such as a seawall) Design of work.
Outcome Improved management for the coast over the long-term. Management measures that will provide the best approach to managing floods and coastal erosion for a specified area. Reduced risks from floods and coastal erosion to people and assets within the benefit area.

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What Policies are set by the SMP?

The coastline is divided into Policy Development Zones which, in turn, are sub-divided into Policy Units, based on natural sediment movements and coastal processes, rather than administrative boundaries. For each policy unit four coastal defence options will be considered, which are:

Policy Comment
Hold the line Maintain or upgrade level of protection provided by defences
Advance the line Build new defences seaward of existing defences
Managed Realignment Allowing retreat of shoreline with management to control or limit movement
No Active Intervention Not to invest in providing or maintaining defences

Policies will be set for three time epochs: 0-20 years, 20-50 years and 50-100 years.

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How are the Policies set in the SMP chosen?

Defra provide the following guidance on setting policies in the SMP (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Shoreline management plan guidance © Crown copyright 2006):

"When choosing policies, you need to take account of technical, environmental, social and economic factors, in line with the Government's strategy for managing floods and coastal erosion. However, you also need to consider local factors when deciding how these policies are most appropriate to particular areas and circumstances. Despite this, it is essential that the policies in the SMP are realistic, using existing legislation and likely future funding. Although the plan should be flexible enough to adapt to changes in legislation, politics and social attitudes, you should develop the SMP policies based on current legislation.
To identify and take account of these factors, assessing and choosing policies should include the following steps.

• Identifying a preferred plan (being the most sustainable – that is, avoiding tying future generations into inflexible or expensive options for defence). Appropriate policies for each policy unit will be based on an analysis of the available information, taking account of technical, environmental, social and economic factors.

• Interested people examining these policies.

• Adopting the SMP and associated policies after considering all comments and responses from people who were consulted, which may result in the adopted policy being different from the preferred policy.

You should not automatically adopt the policy of holding the existing defence line. You should thoroughly assess and compare other policies, including a broad assessment of the longer-term costs and the effects on natural processes. You should consider technical, environmental, social and economic requirements, including whether the policy is practical in the long term.
When assessing policies for particular policy units, you will need to take account of the relationship with other parts of the coast and give equal consideration to achieving requirements in those areas."

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Where can I get more information?

Details of the Public Consultation in the summer of 2009 can be seen on the Consultation page. The full Draft Final SMP can downloaded section by section here.

If you have any other questions, please send us an email via the Contact US page.

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