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Shoreline management plans

There are 2 Shoreline Management Plans which cover the Dorset coast:

  1. Poole and Christchurch Bays Shoreline Management Plan (SMP2)covering the length of coast between Hurst Spit near Milford-On-Sea and Durlston Head near Swanage, including the harbours of Poole and Christchurch.
  2. Durlston Head to Rame Head shoreline management plan (SMP2) - a review of the SMP has recently been completed and will published as SMP2 when all member authorities of the plan between Durlston Head (near Swanage) and Rame Head (near Plymouth) have formally signed up to the plan and it is approved by DEFRA.

What is a shoreline management plan

Shoreline management plans are developed by Coastal Groups with members mainly from local councils and the Environment Agency. They identify the most sustainable approach to managing the flood and coastal erosion risks to the coastline over the next 20, 50 and 100 years. 

They provide a large scale assessment of the risks to people and the developed, historic and natural environment, resulting from the evolution of the coast and estuaries. They provide a policy framework that addresses these risks in a way that does not tie future generations to costly and unsustainable management. The plan attempts to balance potential conflicting interests along the coastline.

It is a policy document for the planning of sustainable coastal management. It takes account of other existing planning initiatives and legislative requirements, and is intended to inform wider strategic planning. While it provides the framework for future decisions, the implementation of the policy relies on the availability of funding. 

Why we need Shoreline Management Plans

Originally, coastal defences were constructed on an ad hoc basis over discrete lengths of coastline.

In recent years, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the government body that sanctions public sector spend on coastal defence, have required economic, environmental and technical assessments to demonstrate the viability of any proposed scheme. However, it was not unusual for little consideration to be given to the possible effects of the new works on the adjoining frontages or those further along the coast.

In addition, the division of coastal responsibility has not always encouraged co-operation over the defence of neighbouring frontages. In the absence of any strategic planning, there were concerns about the sustainability of coastal defences, their long-term effects on adjacent lengths of coastline, lack of communication between those with coastal interests, and other similar issues.

The Shoreline Management Plan represents an attempt to deal with these issues.

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