As ‘Coast Protection Authority’ we manage the district’s coastline.
The shoreline is a dynamic system where stability is maintained despite the continued movement of waves, tides, wind and sediment. The present configuration of the shoreline is now controlled by the various coastal defences which humanity has put in place over the last 100 – 200 years. These have stopped or slowed the transport of sediments and reduced the ability of the shoreline to respond to natural forcing factors.
Who is responsible for the coastline?
Responsibilities are split according to the nature of the ground behind the seashore where the ground lies lower than the seashore and would flood if sea defences failed the Environment Agency is the body responsible for carrying out works to prevent that flooding, where the ground lies higher than the seashore and would erode if attacked by the sea, Rother District Council is the Coastal Risk Management Authority.
As a coastal risk management authority the Council has permissive powers under the Coast Protection Act 1949 to protect the coast from erosion and encroachment by the sea. The legislation does not make it a statutory requirement to defend the coast, but most coastal councils chose to be active in coast protection.
Councils can apply to the Environment Agency for grant aid towards the development of plans and strategies for carrying out a scheme of works to protect the coast. Grant may be forthcoming on the basis of a number of ‘tests’ a scheme would have to meet. These might include, amongst others, such factors as cost, benefit of the works, meeting environmental criteria, nature and appropriateness of the works, their projected lifespan, etc.
The Environment Agency acts as an executive agent of the government department Defra which has the overall policy responsibility for coastal defence.
A key component in managing the coast has been the development of Shoreline Management Plans (SMP) which set out a strategy for the coastal management of a section of the coastline.
Each SMP covers an area of coastline known as a sub-cell within a littoral sediment cell, of which there are eleven on the England and Wales coastline.
A sediment cell is defined as a length of coastline, which is relatively self-contained as far as the movement of sand or shingle is concerned, and where interruption to such movement should not have a significant effect on adjacent sediment cells. Each major littoral cell is divided into a number of sub-cells, based on the best available knowledge of large-scale processes.
In order to encourage improved co-operation between authorities a series of Coastal Groups have been established based on the littoral cell boundaries. Rother District Council is a member of the South-East Coastal Group which extends from Beachy Head to the Isle of Grain. The preparation of SMPs has been an example of the benefits which can be achieved by closer working between authorities. The first generation of SMPs were produced in the mid 1990’s; One SMP covers South Kent and extends from Beachy Head to Dover Harbour (1995) and the North Kent Plan (1996) extends from Dover Harbour to the Isle of Grain on the River Thames. Work is now in hand to review these plans. The South Foreland to Beachy Head Plan was published as a consultation draft in January 2005. The consultation continued until April 8th 2005, details can be seen at http://www.se-coastalgroup.org.uk/
The production of each SMP involved the appointment of expert firms of consulting engineers to undertake a detailed study of all the issues affecting the coast such as land use, environmental protection, economics and the action of the coastal processes. The final report establishes the management policy for the coast defences by dividing it into separate Management Units and making specific recommendations for each unit based on four alternative options:
Do Nothing, Hold the Line, Advance the Line or Retreat the Line.
If you require further information on the Council’s coastal defences, please contact the Contracts Services Manager(see below).
Detailed background information can also be found on the following web-sites:
- South East Coastal Group – http://www.se-coastalgroup.org.uk/
- Environment Agency – http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/
Neighbourhood Services Manager
Rother District Council
Bexhill-on-Sea TN39 3JX