Cumbria Coastal Strategy - Draft Strategy and Public Engagement

What is a coastal strategy?

A coastal strategy is a plan that sets out how we will manage the risks related to coastal flooding and erosion along our coastline over the next century. Cumbria County Council is working with the Cumbria Coast Protection Authorities (District Councils) and the Environment Agency, to develop a strategy for the future management of the coast from Arnside to the Scottish Border. This project is being funded by the Environment Agency.

It builds upon the ideas and policies presented in the North West Shoreline Management Plan. This large-scale plan set out policies for each stretch of coast. We now need to decide how we carry out these policies.

Why do we need a coastal strategy?

In the future there is a risk that our sea defences could fail, or that risks from erosion and flooding will increase over time due to the impacts of climate change, rising sea levels and ageing coastal defences. This may lead to impacts on property and businesses located along our shoreline.

We need a strategy so that we have a clear plan for managing coastal risks in the future, taking these changes in risk into account. It will also support applications to the government for future flood and coastal risk management schemes and to help secure national funds to contribute to the cost of defences.

What has been done so far?

We initially carried out several studies looking at the key features of our coastline and the risks to these from coastal erosion and flooding, both now and in the future.

From this, we identified specific stretches of coast that required works to manage the risk from coastal flooding and erosion in the shorter term. These were called priority units. Within these frontages, we assessed different options that could be implemented to address risk. Along the rest of the coast, we have looked at whether the current Shoreline Management Plan policy is still suitable and identified what future actions will be needed in the future as risks to these remaining frontages change.

Public Engagement on Draft Strategy

We first undertook public engagement on the options in November and December 2018. Since then we have taken into account comments and views received and have considered them alongside technical, economic and environmental factors to propose a preferred strategic approach and future activities for each section of the coastline.

To make sure we fully understand and include the impacts on people, the local economy and the environment, we carried out further engagement on the draft Strategy reports in November and December 2019. A survey was available to provide feedback on how the coastline should be managed, and a number of paper questionnaires and copies of the Engagement Summary Report were placed in Silloth, Workington, Whitehaven, Millom, Barrow in Furness, and Grange over Sands libraries for those without internet access.

The Public engagement on draft strategy - Summary of feedback report (PDF 744KB) provides a summary of the responses we received, actions required, and next steps.

More information on the Strategy, and the proposed approaches and future activities recommended as part of the draft Strategy, is still available below. The reports will be replaced with the final Strategy documents as these become available. 

This document provides a summary of the proposed draft Strategy for the whole of the Cumbria Coast:

Options Development Report - this is a technical report that describes how options have been developed and assessed. Its aim is to demonstrate that the development of options has followed a robust process, and to provide accountability and transparency for option selection. The Options Development Report cross-references baseline information summarised in three Supporting Reports (see below) prepared at the commencement of the Strategy development project. 

The Options Development Report also includes a summary of the proposed Strategy in each of the 24 policy areas.

The Options Development Report includes two appendices described in the below collapsibles: Appendix A and Appendix B.

This includes detailed appraisal reports for each of the 24 policy areas that the Shoreline Management Plan defined for the Cumbria coast. Policy Areas are lengths of coast or estuary where actions along one stretch may affect another stretch due to sediment links. 

Each of these technical reports provide details of options appraised and preferred strategic approaches recommended for priority units and recommended future actions for the whole coast. Links to download these reports for sections of the coast are provided below:

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Strategy Action Plan - This document provides a consolidated listing of all future activities recommended in the Strategy and identifies the organisations involved in taking them forward.

Strategy Action Plan (PDF 0.5MB)

The options development and appraisal described in the above technical reports is supported by the following further technical reports:

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) - this report provides further detail on the environmental assessments undertaken for the Strategy.

 Title  Date  Size
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This report details the methodology and assumptions used in the evaluation of benefits and costs associated with the proposed options. It also collates together all of the cost and benefits tables that are provided in the detailed:

To identify and evaluate the best strategic approaches to managing flood and erosion risks along the Cumbria coast, it has been important to understand the key features, issues and opportunities that exist within the Strategy area. These are considered in three separate supporting reports that were prepared at the start of the strategy development project: 

  • Baseline Information Report - this was prepared at the beginning of the study to summarise the data and information available to inform development of the Strategy. It includes details of:
    - The Shoreline Management Plan and supporting coastal process studies
    - National guidance & legislation
    - National data sets
    - Regional and local data sets
    - Coastal strategies, studies and proposals
    - Local Plans
    - Scheme appraisals and other previous reports provided by project partners.

Baseline Information Report (PDF 3.5MB)

  • Risks, Issues and Opportunities Report - this report provides detailed baseline information on coastal processes and coastal defence conditions and summarises identified issues, risks and opportunities along the Strategy coastline. It includes the following:
    - Detailed information and baseline understanding of coastal processes and shoreline behaviour: this has been based upon updating information from previous studies supporting the SMP2, supplemented with latest understanding from interpretation of results from the North West Regional Monitoring (NWRM) programme to develop up to date summary information on conceptual understanding of coastal process and shoreline change.
    - Mapping of erosion risk, based upon the latest Environment Agency national coastal erosion risk mapping (NCERM) data: maps are included, which show for each policy area erosion predictions for a no active intervention scenario.
    - Mapping of flood risk, based upon the Environment Agency Flood Map, showing flood extents for each policy area.
    - Coastal defence condition data, based upon asset inspection data compiled from annual asset inspections undertaken as part of the North West Regional Monitoring Programme, supplemented by information provided by CCC Highways Authority, Highways England and Network Rail.
    - Summaries of engagement with key project partners to understand their issues, opportunities and requirements of the strategy outcomes including risk workshops held on 29 and 30 August 2017.

Risks, Issues and Opportunities Report (PDF 16MB)

  • Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Scoping Report - this report builds on the baseline data reviews mentioned above and identifies the key environmental receptors that require detailed assessment within the SEA report. The SEA Scoping Report was formally consulted on with the SEA statutory bodies in January 2018. 

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Scoping Report (PDF 1.5MB)

The first round of public engagement on the Coastal Strategy strategic approach and options was undertaken at the end of 2018.

From 19 November to 14 December we invited comments on the short list of options developed for the priority coastal frontages. For non-priority areas we sought feedback on the proposed future actions in those areas. Everyone living, visiting or working on or near the coast was invited to take part in determining how their local coastline should be managed. 

We held a series of drop-in events, providing an opportunity to view the options and speak to members of the project team. The drop-ins were held in Silloth, Whitehaven, Millom, Barrow-in-Furness and Grange over Sands. An on-line and paper survey were also made available.

The Public Engagement Outcomes summary report Public engagement outcomes summary (PDF 1.6MB) provides a summary of the responses and findings from this public engagement.