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Coastal Erosion

Volume 688: debated on Tuesday 23 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will revise their estimate of the likely effects of coastal erosion and collapse in areas of vulnerable coastline around the United Kingdom mainland and islands; and what further measures they will consider to deal with coastal erosion and collapse in these areas. [HL1338]

Defra has overall policy responsibility for coastal erosion risk in England and grant-aids local authority improvement projects and related studies to manage this risk. The department does not build defences or direct the authorities on which specific projects to undertake. Management of coastal erosion risk and associated monitoring is the responsibility of the relevant local authority in each area.

Erosion risk will vary around the coastline depending on local conditions and defences in place. Defra has encouraged the relevant authorities to produce shoreline management plans (SMPs), which provide large-scale assessments of the risks associated with coastal processes and present long-term policy frameworks to manage these risks in a sustainable manner.

In 2001, Defra funded a national study of information on long-term coastal processes and evolution over the next century (Futurecoast). This is designed to be used by coastal authorities to inform their current revisions of SMPs. The Department of Trade and Industry's Foresight: Future Flooding report, published in 2004, also considered possible coastal erosion scenarios over the following 80 years.

Work under the cross-government Making Space for Water programme is focusing on methods for mapping erosion probabilities with the aim of producing national maps of coastal erosion probability in 2009, similar to those currently available for flood risk. Further work within this programme is looking at the national scale of the problems, with a view to considering future options for adaptation policy.

Funding for flood and coastal erosion risk management has increased significantly in recent years. New approaches to management of the risk in a broad sense are being considered under Making Space for Water. They include proposals for new outcome measures, on which we are currently out to public consultation, and for the Environment Agency to have a strategic overview of all coastal flood and erosion risk management.