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Why do we need an SMP?

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 affects and 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.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), formerly the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), the government body that sanctions public sector expenditure on coastal defence, now require 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. In the second round of SMP reviews there are 25 SMPs that contribute to determining national funding requirement for management of coastal flood and erosion risks for the England and Wales shoreline (see map below). It is important to note that the SMP's economic appraisal is based on national public funding criteria, does not reflect affordability of privately funded works and that an SMP does not guarantee public funding to implement the final plan or policies.

Map showing coverage of SMPs around England and Wales

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

Within the North Solent area, the key authorities and agencies have a long history of working together and have forged strong and effective relationships when dealing with a number of issues, including coastal defence management.

List of contact details for SMPs nationally