The Solent Forum

Working in partnership for the future

Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management

Flooding and coastal erosion can have severe economic, social and environmental effects. Flooding can result in loss of life and major effects on the health and well-being of people affected, as well as disrupt services, infrastructure, and businesses.

In England, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) leads on FCERM and provides funding for projects. The Environment Agency disburses funding and delivers FCERM projects. The Environment Agency produces a national flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England. The current strategy was published in July 2020, alongside a new government policy statement on FCERM. The strategy was updated in June 2022 with the publication of a roadmap to 2026.The current national strategy focuses on resilience, and includes measures to:

There are several ‘risk management authorities’ involved in managing flood risk in England at all levels: the Environment Agency; regional flood and coastal committees; lead local flood authorities; local authorities; and internal drainage boards. All powers relating to flooding and land drainage are permissive, so the bodies involved do not have a duty to act. Property owners have the main responsibility for safeguarding their property and land against flooding. 

Southern Coastal Group 

The Southern Coastal Group (SCG) is the Regional Coastal Group for central southern England. Its primary objective is to be a source of expertise, advice and influence to the Regional Flood and Coastal Committees and other stakeholders on matters relating to the 648 km coastline between Portland Bill in Dorset and Selsey Bill in West Sussex, including the Isle of Wight. It also plays a key role in the successful development and delivery of research in the field of coastal risk management, and the development and oversight of regional Shoreline Management Plans.

Southeast Strategic Regional Coastal Monitoring Programme

The Southeast Strategic Regional Coastal Monitoring Programme provides a consistent regional approach to coastal process monitoring, providing information of the development of strategic shoreline management plans, coastal defence strategies and operational management of coastal protection and flood defence.  The programme is managed on behalf of the Coastal Groups and is funded by DEFRA, in partnership with the maritime Local Authorities and the Environment Agency Southeast Region.

Coastal Partners

Coastal Partners consists of a team of engineers, surveyors, project managers, environment and finance experts who centrally deliver a comprehensive coastal management service which manages the coastal flood and erosion risk across 162km of coastline in the Solent. It recognises that coastal flooding and erosion risk aren't exclusive to local authorities and represents four local authorities: Fareham Borough Council, Gosport Borough Council, Portsmouth City Council and Havant Borough.

Flood and Coastal Risk

Defra has overall national responsibility for policy on flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCERM) in England. The department provides funding for flood risk management through grants to the Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards. These risk management authorities and others have their own responsibilities and powers that they can use in order to carry out these responsibilities.

There are three basic tiers of management for coastal defence:

  1. Shoreline management plans (SMP)
  2. Flood and coastal erosion risk management strategies
  3. Coast protection schemes

Shoreline Management Plans

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) is a broad assessment of the long-term risks associated with coastal processes. The document identifies and recommends strategic and sustainable coastal defence policy options for particular lengths of coast to reduce these risks to people, the developed and natural environments.The plan informs, and is supported by, the statutory planning process.  An SMP considers the objectives, policies and management requirements for 3 epochs;

The current (second generation) SMPs were developed by groups of Risk Management Authorities (RMAs) including the Environment Agency and coastal local authorities, Natural England and other key stakeholders, based upon guidance published by Defra in 2006. Each SMP sets out a preferred plan for long term sustainable coastal flood and erosion risk management, which supports other coastal planning by providing information on coastal processes and expected changes to them.

Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategies

The Environment Agency considers a wide range of different measures to address the flood and coastal erosion risk to communities and property. The measures needed for each location are considered on a case by case basis. Some of the measures that may be considered include; building flood and coastal defences, flood storage reservoirs, land management and portable defences.

Coast Protection Schemes

Coast protection schemes are specific capital projects that arise from plans and studies; they typically include a phased programme of works, maintenance and monitoring. Any coastal protection and flood defence scheme must be technically and economically sound and sustainable, environmentally acceptable and conform to the relevant licences and procedures to gain permission and government grant aid funding.

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