Managing our shoreline

Are there any coastal defences in the East Riding?

Yes.  We defend the major towns of Bridlington, Hornsea and Withernsea, plus important assets in the following locations:

  • Mappleton
  • Dimlington Gas Terminals
  • Barmston Drain
  • Tunstall Drain

For more details, please follow the link below to our Coastal Explorer website:

Coastal Explorer – Coastal Information Pack (external East Riding website)

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Why doesn't the council defend the whole coastline?

Coastal defences such as sea walls and groynes tend to be expensive, short-term options which have a high impact on the landscape or environment.  For these reasons, it would be unsustainable and inappropriate to defend all 85 kilometres (53 miles) of our coastline against coastal erosion.

In order for us to introduce, improve or maintain coastal defences in any location, we must have evidence that the social, economic and environmental benefits will outweigh the possible negative impacts for the wider coastline.

The Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) shows how we intend to manage each section of the coastline over the next 100 years, based upon our assessments of potential benefits and negative impacts of defences.

Where the SMP policy is not to defend - ‘No Active Intervention’ - there must be no investment in coastal defences by any individual or organisation.  Instead, natural erosion processes must be allowed to continue.

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How does the council help those communities without coastal defences?

In areas where we are unable to build or maintain coastal defences, we offer support and guidance to those who are at risk from coastal erosion.  Subject to conditions, we can help or encourage residents and business-owners to:

  • apply for rollback planning permission to replace threatened coastal properties with new homes further inland
  • replace threatened assets such as utility supplies in order to increase the life of their coastal properties (a process called adaptation)
  • move from threatened residential properties to homes further inland
  • apply for funding through the East Riding Coastal Change Fund in relation to the above (residents only, subject to availability and eligibility criteria)
  • receive erosion updates by email or letter twice a year.

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How does the council know who is at risk from coastal erosion?

We use our erosion monitoring data and projections in the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) to estimate the level of erosion risk to each property.  We take into account three local factors: the distance between the property and the cliff edge, the recent average erosion rate, and the maximum cliff loss ever recorded since surveys began in the 1950s.

Homes at risk will fall into one of three categories, as explained below:

  • Imminent risk: the distance between the property and the cliff edge is less than the maximum cliff loss ever recorded locally.
  • Higher risk: the property is estimated to be at risk by 2025, rather than imminently; the distance between the property and the cliff edge exceeds the maximum cliff loss ever recorded locally.
  • Lower risk: the property is estimated to be at risk between 2025 and 2055.

Certain properties and assets will also be at risk beyond 2055 because coastal erosion is an ongoing, natural process.


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