Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Coastal Zone Management

Beach Management Plans

Cornwall as a county has seen at first hand the dramatic increase in the popularity of the south west as a tourist destination, with an estimated one million visitors per year coming to Cornwall. This means an estimated £4.3 billion ‘flowing’ into Cornwall and Devon in 2001 (South West Tourism study). Combined with the continuing migration of populations from urban areas to relocate, seeking the ‘rural idyllic’; this enhances the perception of Cornwall becoming a bustling and economic fertile region.

The local council’s services, whom are in charge of implementing beach management plans or BMP’s (hereafter) have a huge part to play, from obvious activities such as beach cleaning and organising beach life guarding to the services which operate more behind the scenes such as water quality testing, managing beach trading and making sure that the coastal wildlife and natural habitats are protected and sustained. The BMP’s are a way of co-ordinating and managing all the different aspects of looking after beaches and protecting them.

“In essence, the plans provide a more joined up, proactive approach to managing beaches, highlighting the profile of each beach, what facilities it has, what the issues are and how we can sustain the beach for the future. Our beach management plans call for involvement by the local community and other interested parties by setting up local beach user forums to help decide how best to preserve and protect the beaches.” (Nick Ortiz, development officer at

What is involved in a Beach Management Plan

Beaches are an integral part of coastal defence, to be able to serve that purpose they must be maintained with sufficient proportions so that they can meet coastal defences, as well as other requirements, present and future. The Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), state that;

“The need for research into coastal processes, sediment transport and performance of beaches is widely recognised in the UK. In the recent past a substantial amount of research has focused on beach behaviour, many new research projects have been planned or are underway and a number of beach recharge schemes have been successfully implemented, yet there remained a serious lack of comprehensive guidance on the management of beaches. It was clear that if economic, effective and environmentally acceptable beach management schemes were to be developed in the future then guidance was needed urgently” (

Beach management can be seen as the process of managing the beach, either by monitoring, simple intervention (e.g. sand fences, litter clearance), recycling, renourishment, or the construction and maintenance of beach control structures such as groynes.

Other issues that may need to be addressed are: water quality, access, amenity, carbon/aquatic footprint, signage/messaging, educational, safety, human resources, heritage, contingency management, international linkages, marketing, mapping, regulatory compliance, achievement of good status, fiscal strengths, stakeholder dialogue, analysticical processes – swot, ownership and conservation of local biodiversity.

Therefore a beach management plan should set down detailed strategies for managing the beach in order to achieve an agreed policy that can be defined in the relevant shoreline management plan. Such goals should be based on a vision looking into how the beach will perform/act in the future, rather than short term estimates.

Beach Management Plans -

Sea Level Rise

Flooding has worsened in recent years and the Environment Agency estimates that 100,000 properties are at risk from flooding in the South West. Flooding is exacerbated by intensive development on flood plains and planning guidance is now being produced to help establish a holistic approach to avoid the devastation of flooding.

A '100-year' flood event - a serious flood which has a chance of happening once every 100 years - has been calculated by the Environment Agency as actually having a 25% chance of happening at least once in 30 years. It also has a 50% chance of happening at least once in 70 years. Although Cornwall was the least affected area in the region during the widespread flooding of 2000-2001, its first flood occurred in the middle of October. Overall, around 63 homes were flooded in Sladesbridge, Ladock and Polmorla and major and minor roads were badly affected along the Tamar Valley.

In the South West, rises in sea levels could have a major impact upon communities in coastal and estuarine areas. Sea level measurements recorded in Newlyn since 1915 show a rise of around 17cm per century (C-CLIF). Taking into account natural rates of subsidence of the land, there is still an unexplained net sea-level rise amounting to between 3 and 10cm per century. Climate change scenarios produced by Dr David Watkins of Camborne School of Mines and C-CLIF, illustrate predictions for the geographical implications of sea level rise in Cornwall (see figs 2.2.1 and 2.2.2).

In order to stabilise carbon dioxide concentration levels, UKCIP states that global emissions would need to be reduced from present levels by 60 to 70%. However as carbon dioxide has an effective lifetime of 100 years, the effects of climate change (surface temperature and sea level rise) would continue to increase for some time due to delayed response time. Sea levels could continue to rise for several centuries before levelling off.

Integrated Coastal Zone Management

Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) is the adoption of an integrated or joined up approach towards the many different interests in both the land and marine components of the coast. It is the process of harmonising the different policies and decision making structures, to encourage concerted action towards achieving specific goals.

Successful integrated coastal zone management may involve adopting the following principles:

  • A long term view
  • A broad holistic approach
  • Adaptive management
  • Working with natural processes
  • Support and involvement of all relevant administrative bodies
  • Use of a combination of instruments
  • Participatory planning
  • Reflecting local characteristics

EU Recommendation on ICZM

In 2002, European Member States adopted a Recommendation on implementing integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) in Europe. Member States were asked to report back to the Commission on their experience in implementing the Recommendation 45 months after its adoption.

To implement the EU recommendation, Defra, jointly with the Devolved Administrations, commissioned a stocktake or audit of the current framework for managing coastal activities in the UK; looking at current practice, legislation, institutions and stakeholders. The final report with conclusions was published in April 2004.

The Stocktake presented a mixed picture of the current level of integrated management in the UK. There were good examples at the local level where voluntary integrated action to resolve conflicts had been successful.

Following the UK Stocktake the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations have been preparing separate draft national strategies on either ICZM or more generally on marine and coastal management. A consultation seeking views on how we can best promote and implement an integrated approach to the management of the coastal zone (ICZM) in England, was published for consultation in 2006. The summary of responses was published in June 2007.

EU evaluation of the ICZM Recommendation

In 2007, the European Commission reviewed progress on the recommendation, and decided that improvements were being achieved across Europe, although in some cases slowly. The Commission issued a Communication concluding that no further actions or new legislation was needed at this stage.

Marine Bill

The principles of ICZM are embedded throughout relevant proposals in the Draft Marine Bill published on 3 April 2008. The Bill proposals offer a real opportunity to join up marine management with existing arrangements on land, in a way that we could never do before. Marine planning in particular will offer new opportunities for coastal regulators and communities to have a say in the way the marine environment is managed, and conversely for marine management to give proper consideration to land planning. ICZM is a priority for UK Government and something we will continue to incorporate at every stage of developing our marine planning system.

Coastal integration does however extend much further than our marine management proposals. It is important that changes we make to marine planning are considered alongside other changes being made to planning structures on land, and are made to work effectively with them. To help consideration of how these processes fit together, we intend to publish a document in the summer 2008, setting out the initiatives being taken forward across Government, which will contribute to or improve coastal integration.

Draft Marine Bill -

Marine Protected Areas

A protected area is defined as an area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity and of natural and associated cultural resources, managed through legal or other effective means.”


Many areas around the United Kingdom are protected in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other designated areas, and the condition of our most loved wildlife sites are slowly improving. However, many of our landscapes are continuing to lose their ecological richness and their distinctive character.

The natural environment is a provider of a wide range of environmental services, including clean air and water, food sources, recreation and inspiration. However, in many areas the natural environment is in a poor condition, reducing the quality of these environmental services.

Ensuring that future generations can enjoy the rich geology, landscapes and biodiversity means that we must significantly improve the protection and management of what we have today. Improving the condition of the natural environment is required to ensure that everyone benefits from the services it provides.

Marine Protected Areas (MPA) - Areas of sea designated for the protection of biodiversity or natural and cultural resources. Natural England's remit extends offshore out to 12 nautical miles from the coast and within this marine area there is a target to 'establish a coherent network of marine protected areas by 2012'. The current MPAs are mainly designated as Special Areas of Conservation or Special Protection Areas (and termed European marine sites). There is one Marine Nature Reserve at Lundy Island and several subtidal SSSIs.