Coastal Management

Hard and Soft

Shoreline Management Plan (SMP): A plan of how to protect an area of coastline from flooding and erosion

4 Options:

  • Advance the Line – claim land from the sea
  • Hold the Line – defend where you are
  • Do Nothing – let it be
  • Managed Retreat – let some areas flood and move back

Hard Engineering – Sea defences that are a man made/built structure to protect the shoreline from waves. Normally big, expensive projects

Soft Engineering – Using nature itself to protect coastline.


Coastal Management, figure 1

Coastal Management, figure 2

Where Is Protected

Why are some areas protected and some are not?

  1. The value of land and buildings might not justify the cost
  2. Building defences might cause more erosion elsewhere
  3. Climate change is likely to ng rising sea levels
  4. It might be better for the environment – e.g. creating new areas of marsh

Holistic and Sustainable

Coastal management is expensive whichever method you choose. Now, holistic (looks at everything) coastal management is being adopted, it creates a balanced approach – some places are protected and others are not.

It takes into account:

  • Needs if different groups of people
  • Economic costs and benefits groups of people
  • Environment, both on land and in the sea


The best method depends on:

How effective is it at protecting?

Hard engineering is more effective at protecting

How much does it cost?

Soft engineering is cheaper

How long will it last?

Soft engineering usually lasts longer

How will it affect the environment?

Soft engineering is better for the environment

Is it sustainable?

Soft engineering is more sustainable

Explain why some areas are protected whilst others are not.
Your answer should include: Cost / History / People / Economic / Environment
Which plans are most holistic (take into account lots of views) and sustainable?
Your answer should include: Opinion / Views / Local / People