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Shoreline Management Plans

SMP stands for Shoreline Management Plan. The SMP2 has a nominal start date of 2005, though it was not published and adopted until 2011.

View the full SMP2 document

The SMP2 is a non-statutory policy document for coastal defence planning and sets out the recommended approach to managing the shoreline over the next 100 years. This is done by considering location, time and policy.


  • Policy Development Zone
  • Management Area
  • Policy unit

Time or Epoch

  • Present day (0 - 20 years or 2005 to 2025)
  • Medium-term (20 - 50 years or 2025 to 2055)
  • Long-term (50 - 100 years or 2055 to 2105)


  • No active intervention (NAI): a decision not to invest in providing or maintaining defences or natural coastline
  • Hold the line (HTL): maintain or upgrade the level of protection provided by defences or natural coastline
  • Managed realignment (MR): manage the coastal processes to realign the ‘natural’ coastline configuration, either seaward or landward, in order to create a future sustainable shoreline position
  • Advance the line (ATL): build new defences seaward of the existing defence line where significant land reclamation is considered

The SMP1 is superseded by the SMP2

A Shoreline Management Plan review of certain locations (Management Areas and Policy Units) where a change in policy is proposed at the end of the first epoch (2025) was carried out in 2016. There are currently no plans for a SMP3.

SMP refresh

The Environment Agency has recently conducted an SMP refresh. The refresh was launched on the 30 January 2024 and five subpolicies were introduced for each of the SMP policies. Cornwall Council’s interactive mapping has now been updated to reflect these new sub policies. The subpolicies provide more guidance on how the SMP will be implemented in each area. The subpolicies are:

Hold the line subpolicies Description

Maintain / Replace

Where protection is currently provided by coastal defence structures / managed beaches and the intention is to retain defence along current alignment, replacing any failed defences as necessary and if justifiable. This can include modifying defence structures and altering the Standard of Protection.

New Defences

Where no defences currently exist but the intention is for new defences to be introduced, potentially following an NAI or MR policy.

Repair not Replace

Where protection is currently provided by coastal defence structures which might be maintained and repaired, but not replaced at failure or at the end of their life.

Temporary Intervention

Allow non-permanent/short-term measures that temporarily reduce flood or erosion risk (e.g. while transition measures / response plans are being established).


Managed Realignment subpolicies Description

Set Back Defence

Where the intent is to defend elsewhere in flood plain inland from present shoreline, or allow erosion/retreat to a defined alignment, where new defences could be constructed at that new location.

Slow Erosion

Where non-permanent/short-term measures would be permitted that slow, not stop, erosion of cliffs or soft backshore.

Remove Defences

Where defences are present and the intent is to remove them to allow the shoreline to begin to realign (erode, or flood to higher ground).

Natural Features

Where the intent is to maintain the integrity of the natural feature (e.g. dune, spit, shingle barrier) to provide a defence function rather than fix its position, by active management of the natural feature but not structural intervention.


No Active Intervention subpolicies Description

No need to Defend

Where there are no assets at risk and no defences are present. There is no requirement or intention to introduce defences.

Do not Defend

Where no defences are present, and it would be technically/environmentally unacceptable to introduce any due to the impact.

Cease to Maintain

Where defences are present, but the intent is that no further works are carried out to maintain them.

Local Activity Only

Where works to repair or construct short stretches of defences within a long length of otherwise NAI shoreline might be permitted to provide local protection (e.g. to a slipway, access point or isolated properties).


You can view the subpolicies for all areas on the Environment Agency's SMP Explorer site.

View the SMP explorer

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