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Coastal Protection

Sedgemoor District Council is one of a number of councils in whom is vested the responsibilities for controlling coastal erosion under the Coast Protection Act 1949. This page provides more information on these issues.

Sedgemoor District Council is a coast protection authority under the Coast Protection Act 1949, and in any sea defence role must also consider the Water Resources Act 1991, and the Land Drainage Act 1991. (The Environment Agency is the primary sea defence authority.) Coast protection authorities have two functions, regulating the protection works of others (such as landowners), and promoting their own schemes.

The Coastal Protection Act is administered by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is broadly intended to allow coastal authorities to carry out capital works, whilst routine maintenance and general husbandry of the coast is regarded as a non-statutory local function. The Act makes no specific provisions for amenity or conservation works and is confined solely to defence structures. There are however numerous other regulations and European Directives that ensure environmental considerations plays a major part in the design and construction of any new scheme or maintenance works.

Sedgemoor District Council administers approximately 15km of coast from the Stert Peninsula to Brean Down, and the majority of land is in private ownership. The Council has a duty to ensure that the defences that form part of that land are not compromised, in order to reduce the risk of flooding from the sea. Certain lengths of this coast have man made sea defences, such as the wall at Burnham-on-Sea. These defences are the responsibility of the Environment Agency.

If you notice any change in the coastline, change to the coastal defences, require some advice on some point related to our coastline or have a point that you feel we should known about, please contact the district council.

Private Development on the Coast and Changes to the Coastal Defences

If your property backs onto the coastline and you wish to modify, upgrade or renew the existing coastal defence, you will need planning permission, and permission from the Environment Agency before the works can go ahead. Please contact in writing the Environment Agency and our Development Control Manager with details of your proposals, before starting any works.

Shoreline Management Plan Review (SMP2)

The Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) is a document that sets out a general strategy for coastal defence and was first produced back in 1998 and an updated SMP2 was produced in October 2010. The SMP is a report which identifies and assesses the risks connected with coastal processes. The latest draft of SMP2 is available online for viewing, please visit  North Devon & Somerset Coastal Advisory Group.

External Coastal Management Groups

Sedgemoor District Council is involved with a number of different external organizations that deal with Coastal Management. These are:

  • Association of Severn Estuary Relevant Authorities
  • Bristol Channel Counter Pollution Association
  • North Devon and Somerset Coastal Group
  • Severn Estuary Partnership
  • Standing Conference of Severnside Local Authorities

For extra information on the above organizations, please view the following websites; the Severn Estuary Gateway & the North Devon & Somerset Coastal Advisory Group.