Shoreline Management Planning

 What is a Shoreline Management Plan (SMP)?

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) is a long term, high level, broad assessment of the risks associated with erosion and flooding at the coast that seeks to reduce these risks to people and the developed, historic and natural environments. The plan offers a vision for how the coast is to be managed in the future, by identifying sustainable long-term coastal erosion and flood risk management policies for the coast.

The SMP is a non-statutory document 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, where possible, adverse impacts on adjacent coastal areas. It 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.

The SMP is a ‘living’ document used by the operating authorities and other organisations (e.g. the Local Authority, Natural Resources Wales) to consider the planning and implementation of sea defences and other maritime works. It is also used by the Welsh Government and NRW when considering applications from the operating authorities to fund various coastal defence works.

Will SMPs protect my property?

Almost everyone whose land or property is threatened by the sea wants to be protected. However, coastal defences are costly to build and maintain and they sometimes have damaging effects on the natural environment or an adjoining length of coastline. SMPs identify the places that are affected or threatened by flooding or erosion. They state the likely cost of protection for such areas and test this against the economic value of the land or property. Where there is a threat, and some form of coastal defence is economically and environmentally sustainable, then an option which allows protection is likely to be preferred. Where the provision of any form of defence would be detrimental, uneconomic or unsustainable, ‘no active intervention’ would normally be the preferred option.

More information

To view information about the SMP process in West Wales click here