Your location: Home

Compendium on methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change

Shoreline Management Planning (SMP)

Shoreline Management Planning is a generic approach to the strategic management of the combined hazards of erosion and flooding hazards in coastal areas, which are key concerns under climate change and sea-level rise. New approaches to shoreline management have developed in the United Kingdom over the last 10 years. This involves dividing the coast of England and Wales into a series of natural units (cells and sub-cells). Based on these units, a number of shoreline management plans are then developed which collectively cover the entire coastal length. Each shoreline management plan further divides the coast based on land use and selects a series of strategic options to be applied over the next 50 to 100 years:

  1. Advancing the line;
  2. Holding the line;
  3. Managed realignment;
  4. Limited intervention;
  5. No active intervention.

The practical implementation of these options is not directly considered — this is considered at lower levels of planning. Whatever is proposed must be consistent with a suite of Project Appraisal Guidance Notes (PAGN) that provide guidance (listed at and pdf-icon ). The Eurosion Consortium have taken these approaches and developed them for application across the European Union (

Appropriate Use SMP has been designed for developed countries with extensive coastal defence infrastructure. However, these approaches should find widespread application around the world’s coasts, especially if slightly adapted to local circumstances. SMPs are designed as “living” plans, including regular update, so the whole process will stimulate the development of long-term coastal management appropriate to responding to climate change and sea-level rise.
Scale SMP is applied typically at sub- national to national scales pertinent to strategic flood and erosion management.
Key Output Strategic approaches for flood and erosion management for the next 50 to 100 years.
Key Input A range of information is required, including, ideally, historical shoreline change, contemporary coastal processes, coastal land use and values, and appropriate scenarios of change. However, the first generation of SMPs in England and Wales was conducted with incomplete datasets.
Ease of Use The methods are designed assuming significant expertise and would be best implemented by consultants.
Training Required With appropriate consultants this would not be necessary
Computer Requirements Depends on the approach adopted
Documentation See International studies
International studies

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs DEFRA (2001) Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF, 1995) Leafe et al ( 1998) Burgess and Hosking (2002)

Contacts for Framework, Documentation, Technical Assistance

DEFRA, Flood and Coastal Defence Division (http:/

Stephane Lombardo, National Institute for Coastal and Marine Environment/RIKZ, Kortenaerkade, 1, 2500 EX The Hague, The Netherlands; Tel: + 31.70.3114.369; Fax: +31.70.3114.380; e-mail:

Cost Free download of DEFRA (2001) from  and