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Managing our shoreline

What areas are protected by coastal defences?

The East Riding coastline is approximately 85km long (53 miles) of which 9.3km is defended by East Riding of Yorkshire Council and a further 2.15km is covered by privately owned defences.

Based on Shoreline Management Plan policy much of the East Riding coastline will be allowed to erode to maintain natural processes. Larger communities will be defended to maintain them as viable towns and seaside resorts. These are:

  • Bridlington

  • Hornsea

  • Withernsea

In areas outside of these defended settlements there are some important assets that need to be protected, such as highways, industrial sites and areas that are at risk from flooding and erosion. These include:

  • Mappleton
  • Easington and Dimlington cliffs
  • Barmston Drain and Tunstall


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How do we decide which areas are defended?

Areas of coast that can be sustainably defended are identified through a process of shoreline management planning. This process considers the risks associated with coastal processes and coastal change and considers how the risks to people, property and the historic and natural environment can be reduced. To achieve this social, economic and environmental characteristics of each section of coast are assessed to establish the most appropriate management policy.

This process is carried out under a partnership approach with neighbouring coastal authorities, government and non-government agencies, communities and stakeholder groups. From this all coastal areas in England are required to develop and adopt a Shoreline Management Plan (SMP), which establishes the management policy for each section of coast. It is these policies that will define whether an area is defended or not.

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How is the coast managed in areas without defences?

Coastal change is a natural process that has shaped, and will continue to shape, the East Riding coastline through the impact of coastal erosion. Whilst major settlements and areas of national strategic importance will continue to be defended, it is not sustainable or affordable to defend all sections of the coast. In areas where it is not possible to provide coastal defences the council is working directly with coastal communities at risk to help them plan for the impacts of coastal change.

It is important that coastal communities are given opportunity to contribute to the long term planning process in their areas, to help establish the most appropriate policies and adaptation measures. Through the East Riding Coastal Change Fund(formerly the East Riding Coastal Change Pathfinder), the council is developing a range of approaches to help communities to adapt to coastal change. The Coastal Change Fund is delivered on a risk-basis, with vulnerable communities which are undefended and at imminent risk from coastal erosion taking priority.

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How do we establish who is at risk?

Some residents recognise the risk posed to their property or land and contact the council to discuss their circumstances. However, officers from across the council also work together to proactively identify the individuals who are at risk. The level of risk is established through the council's coastal erosion monitoring data used together with the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP).

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