Shoreline Management

Shoreline Management and Flooding

Flooding cannot be prevented entirely, but by working with partners and people at risk of flooding, the effects can be minimised and the amount of damage caused reduced.

Managing flood risk has never been more important. Over 5.5 million, or one in six, are at risk of flooding from all types of floods across England and Wales. Climate change projections indicate rising sea levels and increasingly severe and frequent rainstorms mean the risk of floods will increase.

The likelihood of flooding can be reduced through:

  • management of land and river systems
  • building and maintaining flood and coastal defences
  • raising the awareness of  flood risk including through the Flood Map
  • encouraging people to take action to protect themselves and their property

Flood damage can also be reduced through effective control of development, providing flood warnings and working with emergency respondents to help people who are at risk.

The Environment Agency is responsible for dealing with coastal flooding and flooding from main rivers you can find out more about what's happening to prevent coastal flooding as part of the Shoreline Management Plan. Essex County Council is responsible for dealing with flooding from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses.

The Essex and South Suffolk Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) describes how the shoreline in this area will be managed to balance all the interests around the coast, for the next 100 years.

In the first instance, this is about the management of the shoreline and its flood and erosion defences. Any projects to change and improve flood and erosion defences would be developed by the Environment Agency and the maritime local authorities, in close partnership with all those affected. These projects also have to go through the local authorities' planning process.

There is of course also a strong relationship with social, economic and environmental activities and values around the shoreline. SMP policies are therefore not driven purely by flood and coastal defence economics, because it is impossible to quantify all the impacts of shoreline management.

How are flood and coastal defences funded?

In the UK there is no statutory responsibility on anyone to provide or maintain flood and erosion defences. The Environment Agency and the maritime local authorities only have permissive powers to do so, and they need to work within the limited budgets available. So implementing SMP policies will depend on funding being available.

In May 2011, Defra announced a new approach for funding flood and coastal erosion risk management projects. Rather than fully funding some projects and declining others, many more projects can be delivered by building partnerships and securing funding from other sources such as private investors, businesses, the community or local groups. These projects have the potential to achieve a wider range of benefits and outcomes such as amenity, tourism and regeneration.