The coastline is a valuable resource subject to various pressures: for commercial, industrial and residential development; for cost effective protection from flooding and erosion; and for conservation of environmental assets.
The Institution supports the principle of integrated coastal zone management and the formulation of shoreline management plans, which aim to reconcile these potentially conflicting pressures and to identify the most appropriate options for each stretch of coastline.
Protection of existing assets
Where existing development is located on the coastline, there is an economic imperative to protect assets from flooding and erosion and a need to ensure human safety.
Repair, replacement and additional provision of physical defences will be among the options for consideration. However, in some circumstances managed retreat will be the most cost effective and sustainable solution.
Solutions should be based on an understanding of the natural processes occurring on the costline and where possible should utilise rather than distort these processes. Beach recharging and dune stabilisation are examples of such techniques.
Natural habitats, ecological and landscape features should also be regarded as valuable assets and the need for ther protection considered.
Coastal development and redevelopment
Government policy is to discourage inappropriate development in areas at risk from flooding and erosion. This reflects the potentially excessive cost involved in protecting such development in comparison to the benefits available.
However, in many cases development of coastal areas can significantly enhance local economic growth through increased commercial or leisure activity. There may be particularly strong economic arguments for redevelopment in towns and cities previously dependent on port and harbour activities. The economic benefits of such development must be weighed up against protential environmental impacts.
European Union Directives on birds and habitats can restrict development in Special Protection Areas. Interpretation of EU Directives needs to be flexible, to allow an acceptable balance to be struck between economic and environmental factors.