About the SMP

SMP2 in full

The Project Team

The Review

Our Shoreline



Other Documents

Useful Links


The SMP Review has been undertaken by consultants

on behalf of

About the SMP

Wooden groyne, Poole BayOur shoreline is constantly changing, sometimes gradually, sometimes dramatically, and these changes have created some of the coast's most beautiful and important features.  They also, however, represent a threat to many of our coastal communities.  To protect these communities we have often had to resort to building coastal defences.

Until relatively recently, defences were constructed on an ad-hoc basis over relatively short lengths of coastline the boundaries of which were usually marked by administrative borders - an approach which failed to consider the impact on other coastlines and often resulted in erosion and flood problems downdrift.

In 1994 the Coastal Groups and local authorities of England & Wales were encouraged by Government to adopt the concept of Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs), with a view to providing a more strategic and sustainable approach to coastal defence. 

SMPs divide the shoreline of England and Wales into cells & subcells (click to enlarge)The SMP sets out the policy for managing our coastline and how we respond to the threat of coastal flooding and the risks of erosion.  It is a high level non-statutory policy document that aims to balance those risks with natural processes and the consequences of climate change.  It needs to take account of existing defences and the natural and built environments, and be compatible with adjacent coastal areas.

SMPs divide the shoreline of England & Wales into a series of cells and subcells (map right, click to enlarge it), defined by coastal type and processes such as the movement of beach and seabed sediment within and between them. 

The shoreline covered by the local SMP stretches from Durlston Bay to Hurst Spit, known nationally as Subcell 5F

The local SMP

The first local SMP (SMP1) was produced by the Poole & Christchurch Bays Coastal Group in 1999.  SMP2, published late October 2010, is the first review of that document.

SMP2 promotes management policies for a coastline into the 22nd Century that achieve long-term objectives without committing to unsustainable defence. It is recognised, however, that due to present day objectives and acceptance, wholesale changes to existing management practices may not be appropriate in the very short term.

Consequently, the SMP provides a timeline for objectives, policy and management changes; i.e. a ‘route map’ for decision makers to move from the present situation towards the future.

Schematic of SMP2 links between PDZ, MA and PU (click to enlarge)SMP2 divides Subcell 5F into four 'Policy Development Zones' (PDZs); each PDZ is divided into a number of 'Management Areas' (MAs) and MAs into 'Policy Units' (PUs). 

For instance Durlston Bay & Swanage Bay is PDZ4, divided into Management Areas DUR.O and SWA.N; then sub-divided into Policy Unit O.1 at Durlston Bay and Policy Units N.1-N.4 at Swanage Bay (see the Policy Summary Map for further detail).

The Plan identifies one of four shoreline management policies for each Policy Unit:

Shoreline Management Policy options:

Hold the Line - defences are maintained and upgraded or replaced in their current position where funding permits.

Managed Realignment - this policy allows realignment of the shoreline (forwards or backwards) with management to control or limit the movement.  Any increase in flood risk will also be managed.  Although this policy typically applies to low-lying areas at risk of flooding it can equally apply to cliffed areas, whereby cliff recession could be slowed down for a period of time.

No Active Intervention (do nothing) - this is a policy decision not to invest in the provision or maintenance of any defences.  Where there are no existing defences the shoreline will continue to evolve naturally.  This policy can also apply to areas that are currently defended but may not be defended in the future.  These areas will evolve more naturally, which may include an increased risk of flooding or coastal erosion.  It may be necessary to intervene (by removing old defences) in order that a 'No Active Intervention' policy can be implemented

Advance the Line - new defences are built seaward of existing defences where funding permits, involving a significant reclamation of land in the process.

The 22 SMPs produced for the shoreline of England & Wales form an important element of Defra & NAW's Strategy for Flood and Coastal Defence.

Defra - Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

NAW - National Assembly for Wales

home • about the smp • smp2 • the project team • the review • our shoreline • faqs

smp1 • other documents • useful links • contacts

© 2007-2011 Poole & Christchurch Bays Coastal Group; last updated 05 August 2011

Designed & maintained by VIVID Websites