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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Shoreline Management Plan?

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) is a non statutory, policy document for coastal defence management planning. It takes account of other existing planning initiatives and legislative requirements, and is intended to inform wider strategic planning. It does not set policy for anything other than coastal defence management. SMP's are an important part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair's (Defra) strategy for flood and coastal defence, and should inform, and be supported by, the statutory planning process.

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) aims to provide a broad large-scale assessment of the risks associated with coastal evolution and to balance the management of coastal flooding and erosion risks associated with coastal processes. It then aims to present a policy framework to address the risks to people and the developed, historic and natural environment in a sustainable manner over the next 100 years. An SMP considers the objectives, policies and management requirements for 3 epochs;

(a) present day (0-20 years);
(b) medium-term (20-50 years); and
(c) long-term (50-100 years).

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.


How is the SMP relevant to me or my organisation?

Identifying areas at risk from tidal flooding and/or coastal erosion is key for managing and preventing inappropriate development in these areas, particularly when considering potential impacts of changes in climate. 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.

However, due to the current legislative and funding arrangements, climate change and environmental considerations, it may not be possible to protect, or continue to defend land or property from flooding or erosion.

The impacts of coastal defences on existing properties, coastal processes or the environment therefore need to be carefully assessed before construction. For these assessments the coastline is sub-divided into Policy Units: lengths of shoreline based on natural sediment movements and coastal processes, rather than administrative boundaries. A coastal defence policy is applied to each epoch of each Policy Unit. Each individual policy may have implications for the future of coastline and the current activities undertaken there. This may then effect the way you or your organisation interacts with the coastline

The North Solent SMP is therefore not only relevant to everyone who currently has a vested interest in coastal assets but also those who in the future may be influenced or affected by these coastal management decisions.


What are the policy options?

The SMP will assign one of the policies (defined by Defra) to each section of the coast within the plan area. These policies are:-

Hold The existing defence Line (HTL)

maintain or upgrade the level of protection provided by defences

Advance The existing defence Line (ATL)

build new defences seaward of the existing line (e.g. land reclamation)

Managed Realignment (MR)

allow retreat of the shoreline, with management to control or limit movement

No Active Intervention (NAI)

a decision not to invest in providing or maintaining defences

These policies relate to the provision of tidal flood and erosion defences; however plan development and implementation is jointly undertaken by engineering and planning officers from the Maritime Local Authorities and the Environment Agency (termed Operating Authorities).


How are Policy options determined?

The SMP needs to identify the main features and issues of concern relating to erosion and tidal flood risk, and the management of these natural coastal processes. These features will be obtained from those with an interest in the coast, such as residents, businesses or those with a concern for the natural environment, or built heritage. The features and issues will be collectively appraised to determine the policies which should be applied to allow society's objectives to be achieved, in full acknowledgement of the potential impact on the natural environment and likely environmental, financial and social costs involved.


What are features and issues?

A feature is defined as something tangible that provides a benefit or service to society in one form or another. Examples of a feature include residential or commercial properties, a heritage site, footpaths, nature conservation designated site, etc.

Issues are concerns or perceptions of risk that an individual, group or agency have, relating to the coast. Issues may occur where either a feature is at risk from tidal flooding or erosion or where management intervention could impact upon a feature. Examples include:

  • Potential loss of housing through erosion;
  • Potential for coastal works to impact upon asset;
  • Potential for loss or damage to designated habitats, or creation of replacement habitats;
  • Potential loss of or damage to services and roads through erosion.

It is important that all features and issues raised are defined and recorded, along with why they are important considerations and who benefits from them, to formalize and ensure consistency of assessment, and for clarity in the decision making process. Those identified relate to the key themes of:

  1. Natural Environment
    This section includes - International, European, National and Local Nature, Conservation Designations, Biodiversity Action Plans, Fisheries, Earth Heritage, etc.
  1. Landscape Character
    This section includes - National, County and Local Character Areas, Designated Landscapes and Visual features
  2. Historic Environment
    This section includes - Listed Buildings, Scheduled Ancient Monuments, Conservation Areas, Sites of Archaeological Interest and Potential, Protected Wreck Sites, Wrecks, Submerged Landscapes, etc.
  3. Current and Future Land Use and Planning

The information from this review will be used as a basis for developing policy options and assessing the implications and thus the suitability of these options.


Do any features and issues have more weight as policy drivers than others i.e. My house vs. wetland habitat? Or Infrastructure vs. Agricultural land? If so how have you made those decisions?

The features identified within each theme are ranked, but it is not possible to directly compare the rankings between different themes, i.e. one town can be compared to another town, but the importance of a town can not be directly compared to that of a designated conservation site.


Will my views, opinions, concerns and ideas have any influence on the policy appraisal process and the final policies that are set?

Engaging with Key Stakeholders during the SMP development process is a central component of integrated coastal management It is essential that the SMP adequately deals with the issues and concerns of the communities, businesses and organisations that have an interest in this part of the coast and that the best information is available for the decision making process.

We need your help in providing any appropriate information you may hold which will improve the data on which the plans are prepared. We would like to learn more about those issues that you would want to see being addressed in the plans and any other comments that you feel the Coastal Authorities should be aware of during the preparation of the plans. The understanding of why a feature is important to stakeholders, either locally or nationally also helps us to ensure that the decision making process is transparent.

It is only once we have gathered all the relevant information and have a full understanding of the needs and requirements of Key Stakeholders that we can make informed decisions about coastal management therefore your input is of the utmost importance to the SMP process.


How will you be dealing with any conflicts of interests that may arise?

All comments and representations will be collated by the Client Steering Group (CSG). Responses will be catalogued along with their outcomes and justification for outcome, and stored in a database to aid administration and analysis activities, and demonstrate transparency of approach. The CSG will fully consider the comments and representations received and will respond to the consultee in an appropriate manner. Differences of opinion or view will aim to be resolved through conferences, round-the-table meetings or facilitated workshops. Such an approach will provide opportunities to present facts and details and allow differences of view to be raised and discussed in an open manner, with dialogue, comments and outcomes being recorded. Negotiated outcomes will enable a consensus on issues, values and policies to be sought. Resolving differences in view improves analysis of problems and consideration of outcomes and contributes to a better plan.


How will I have any way of knowing that my input has had any effect on the final policy that is set?

A Stakeholder Engagement Report will be produced that will summarise the issues raised, and the proposed outcomes and justifications following discussions between the relevant parties. This report will be publicly available via the North Solent SMP website in a form to enable effective feedback to all parties.

Once the SMP reaches its conclusion it will be freely available for reference and full details of the entire decision making process will be included. All the information used throughout the whole project has been recorded meticulously to ensure clarity and transparency.


When will the SMP be finished and when will the policies be implemented?

The final SMP will be produced and adopted by each maritime local authority and will be disseminated in a number of formats. The documents, maps and supporting appendices will be available to view and download directly from the internet; hard copies will be retained by each of the operating authorities, and member organisations that comprise the Client Steering Group; summary leaflets will be available via the internet, and in a number of public centres, such as public libraries.


Can I contact you with any further queries, concerns and questions that I may have?

If you have any further concerns or questions please contact us as detailed below:

Andrew Colenutt
North Solent SMP Project Manager
NFDC Coastal Officer
Lymington Town Hall
Lymington, Hants
SO41 9ZG
andrew.colenutt@nfdc.gov.uk

Please let us have your comments by Friday 17 April 2009. We will consider all of the responses when assessing the key policy drivers and before making the final policy decisions, keep you informed and share the outcomes of this consultation with you.