Coastal Change

This page sets out the resources provided by Historic England to deal with the impacts of coastal change.

Coastal Change

Natural erosion, Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) schemes and commercial developments all pose risks for coastal heritage.  Historic England provides advice on the implications of these factors for the historic environment at a strategic and scheme-specific level.

How do we support the management of coastal heritage?

The sections in the Government’s Planning Practice Guide on Flood Risk and Coastal Change and Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change set out how local planning authorities can adopt proactive strategies to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change on coastal areas.

Options for adaptation may need to be managed through the planning system and changes to those historic places protected through designation may require separate consents or licences under:

  • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979
  • The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 or
  • The Protection of Wrecks Act 1973

Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys

We have commissioned a series of Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys (RCZAS), intended to enhance the National Monuments Record (NMR) and local authority Historic Environment Records (HERs), and to help with the conservation of heritage assets in the coastal zone.

A selection of the Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Reports can be downloaded from the foot of this page.

Our advice on 'Coastal Defence and the Historic Environment' is under revision and will be replaced. 

Meanwhile the principles underpinning Historic England’s approach to managing coastal heritage assets, which will inform new guidance, are set out in the Defra document Adapting to Coastal Change: Developing a Policy Framework (March 2010, pp. 41-5).

The basic principles of technical feasibility, long-term sustainability, and cost effectiveness will apply to Historic England’s role in developing schemes to protect the historic environment, or to mitigate unavoidable damage.

Shoreline Management Plans

We have published guidance on how coastal heritage should be considered as part of the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) process.

Aimed at coastal groups and consultants, it includes information and guidance on the coastal historic environment, sources of advice and data, the legislative and planning background, and the consultation process that should be followed when Shoreline Management Plans (SMP) are reviewed.

It is intended to supplement and amplify Shoreline Management Plan Guidance published by Defra.