Policies & Legislation
There are numerous policies, plans, strategies, Acts of Parliament and other legislation which determine how our coastline is managed.
Government sets the agenda. The biggest shift in policy since the Coastal Protection Act 1949 was arguably the national strategy “Making Space for Water” (2005). The title gives a clue to what was proposed, essentially giving more emphasis to policies such as managed realignment (letting the sea into low-lying areas) and concentrating resources on major urban areas rather than spending lots of money on sparsely populated rural areas.
This triggered various reviews of regional and local coastal policy. Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) were produced as higher-level strategic documents which took quite long sections of the English coast (in our case, from Southampton to Selsey), split them up into smaller frontages, and determined the policy for each frontage. North Solent SMP
Below this tier of plan, Coastal Defence Strategies (CDSs) take parts of the SMP coastline and look in detail at them, to determine more precisely how the SMP policies relate to the conditions, how they might be implemented, what they might cost and whether there might be any funding to do them. In our case, our CDS was produced before our SMP, so the “tail wagged the dog”.
Do not think that having a policy which says a certain thing should happen, means it will happen! In many cases the money to implement these policies is not available, so by default policies which require expenditure (e.g. “Hold the Line”) may very well not happen.
Funding coastal defence (link to Briefings) is a complex topic, partly because the rules, mechanisms and budgets frequently change, in response to political, economic, environmental and social factors. For an idea of the issues, read our report to the National Audit Office (consultations/ Local/2007/National Audit Office).
In November 2010 the EA and DEFRA launched two public consultations on these issues (Future Funding of Flood & Coastal Erosion Work, and Future Arrangement of Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management), to which we responded in detail, as well as having discussions with the DEFRA team behind the proposals. Pdf versions of these responses are available on our consultations page.
By May 2011 the goverment had adopted the proposals in the consultation documents, with some amendments. This introduced the “Partnership Funding” system under which non-government contributions are required to schemes, in order to lever-in government funding.
Coastal Protection Act 1949 – see http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/legResults.aspx?LegType=All+Legislation&searchEnacted=0&extentMatchOnly=0&confersPower=0&blanketAmendment=0&sortAlpha=0&PageNumber=0&NavFrom=0&activeTextDocId=1135052
Making Space for Water – see http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/flooding/documents/policy/strategy/strategy-response1.pdf