Beach Management Plans

Managing shingle beaches against coastal erosion and flooding in Kent and Sussex through regional Beach Management Plans.

The project was initiated and led by the Environment Agency starting out as a regional project but carried forward by the Solent and Southdown Area. The run-up tool was developed by HR Wallingford and the Joint Probability data produced by the Channel Coastal Observatory (New Forest District Council). Sediment budgets and the BMPs including development of the overtopping assessment tool and data display were produced by Canterbury City Council.


Over the last two centuries, the mainly mixed sand and shingle beaches in Southeast England have become increasingly managed in order to maintain them in size and position as they often form the only defence against coastal flooding and erosion. The management of these beach volumes and their distribution along the coast is an essential part of Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management on the coast of Southeast England. The work is carried out by both Local Authorities and the Environment Agency to implement the Hold the Line policies of Shoreline Management Plans (SMP2) with the broader management strategy (e.g. a groyned or open beach) usually defined through more detailed Coastal Defence Strategies and Schemes.

A review of beach management practices in 2011 highlighted that the extensive information collected by the Regional Coastal Monitoring Programme is rarely used;

  • in supporting or evaluating beach design and ongoing management practices
  • to justify the scale and timing of beach management interventions.

It also showed that:

  • the assessment of risk from coastal flooding or erosion is poorly documented and justified. As a consequence there is high uncertainty of the standard of defence provided and how this standard would change with different management, for example due to funding restrictions.
  • there is no recognition of up or down drift frontages’ management practice, as a consequence potential inefficiencies are introduced or possible efficiencies are not utilised,
  • there is little recognition of potential habitat opportunities, for example vegetated shingle.

Project aims

The main aim of the project was to create Regional Beach Management Plans that:

“provide an accountable and transparent methodology for managing beaches as coastal defence assets based on risk information that derives from scheme design, monitoring and scientific/research input with the aim of managing the frontage in a sustainable way that enhances vegetated shingle habitats.”

The development of the Beach Management Plans (BMPs) should ideally be carried out by the Risk Management Authorities in the area to benefit from their local expertise, improve skill levels and retain expertise to aid future updates and integration with coastal monitoring data collected.

Find out about:

Tools and data

The tools used for the Regional Beach Management plans include:

  • Run-up Prediction spreadsheets
  • Joint Return Probability study

Download the tools and data

Regional Beach Management Plans