Isle of Wight Coast Shoreline Management Plan
A shoreline management plan is a risk management plan for the Isle of Wight coast. The first Plan was completed in 1997, and the second fully revised and updated plan was completed in 2011. Work on updating the shoreline management plan (SMP) followed national advice and guidance from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency.

The shoreline management plan provides the framework for managing risks around the Isle of Wight coastline; it sets out policy for coastal defence in those areas where coastal defence is appropriate and areas where defences may no longer be required now or in the future.

The Isle of Wight Council's Coastal Management team led the preparation of the plan, working with the Environment Agency, and the plan was subject to full public consultation. For full information on the new Plan, which is fully available online, please visit or contact Coastal Management (tel: 01983 857220).

Isle of Wight North-East Coastal Defence Strategy Study
Whilst the shoreline management plan provides the risk framework for management of the coast, strategy studies provide a more detailed assessment of particular frontages in order to identify the most suitable type of coastal defence schemes that may be required, or other coastal defence options along the particular frontage concerned. The North-East Coastal Defence Strategy Study, which extends from the Shrape Breakwater at East Cowes to Culver Cliff, was completed in 2005. The Plan sets out the works programme along the north-east coast frontage for the next five years including details on costings. Schemes which are included for progression within the North-East Coast Strategy Study include the possibility of further works at Seagrove Bay, Seaview and a beach management scheme for the Bembridge frontage.

Sandown Bay and Undercliff Coastal Defence Strategy Study
The Strategy study for Sandown Bay and the Undercliff was drafted by the Isle of Wight Centre for the Coastal Environment in partnership with consultants Royal Haskoning. The investigations for Sandown Bay were underway and one consultation programme took place.

An assessment was made of the impacts of 'do nothing' in the Bay in order to identify the value of the assets at risk and failure scenarios in the event of no action being taken. This allows an assessment of the economic justification for defence and consideration of the most appropriate types of coastal defence schemes for the frontage in the future.

The study was extended to include the Undercliff frontage from Monk's Bay at Bonchurch in the east to Chale Terrace at Blackgang to the west. The Undercliff frontage study was gathering technical, environmental and economic data. The Council's consultants sought an economic evaluation for the frontages and giving consideration to the most appropriate scheme options for the future. The Sandown Bay and Undercliff Strategy was halted due to new guidance being produced, and due to the requirement to produce the Isle of Wight Shoreline Management Plan.

West Wight Coastal Defence Strategy Study
The West Wight coastal defence strategy study was also being developed and a second round of public consultations were held at venues at Cowes and Yarmouth. The draft Strategic Management Unit maps and tables of options at that time can be downloaded here:

Map showing location of Strategic Management Units

Tables of draft options

The Strategy was being undertaken by the Coastal Management team and W.S.Atkins; the study was grant-aided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The strategy study covers the frontage along the open south-west coast of the Isle of Wight from Chale Terrace to the Needles and along the north-west coast of the Island from the Needles all the way to the Shrape Breakwater at East Cowes. The study aims to integrate with management plans undertaken previously for the Western Yar and the River Medina.

The first phase of the study comprised information-gathering in relation to the physical and natural environments including coastal processes. Economic data was gathered and an assessment of the condition of existing defences was made.

An economic assessment was followed by seeking coastal defence scheme options where technically sound, economically justifiable and environmentally acceptable solutions are available.

The West Wight Strategy was halted due to new guidance being produced, and due to the requirement to produce the Isle of Wight Shoreline Management Plan

East Yar Fluvial and Coastal Strategy
To visit the project website, please click here.

Isle of Wight Environmental Mitigation Study
The Isle of Wight is widely recognised as an area of considerable environmental importance. Over 90% of its coastline has been designated as being of European environmental legislation and additionally much of the coastline is 'Heritage Coast' or of 'Outstanding Natural Beauty'.

Where coastal defence works and other coastal projects are being undertaken, and which may impact upon these European sites, it is necessary to offset any possible environmental damage through provision of mitigation in the vicinity or elsewhere on the Island.

In order to develop a co-ordinated approach to this subject the Centre for the Coastal Environment commissioned consultants Atkins to undertake an Isle of Wight Environmental Mitigation Study.

The Study has investigated opportunities around the Isle of Wight coast for managed realignment that could allow the creation of habitats to offset impacts on areas that may be affected by coastal development proposals elsewhere.

This important study which has been grant-aided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was completed in July 2006.

Coastal Evolution and Risk Mapping
In order to develop sustainable coastal policies for the Isle of Wight and to inform planning policy it is vital that there is a proper understanding of how the Isle of Wight coastline is evolving and what risks may result from erosion, landsliding, flooding and the impacts of climate change.

To assist this process the Isle of Wight participated in an important study in collaboration with the Ordnance Survey, the British Geological Survey and the Hydrographic Office (see ICZMap Project - details provided below). This study has assisted the Council in the preparation of a coastal evolution and risks maps for the whole of the Isle of Wight coast. The completed map, which is GIS based, will inform the planning process in the long term and assist sustainable development.

This study is a prime example of the sort of practical applications that support integrated coastal zone management (ICZM). Consultants Atkins undertook this study jointly with the Isle of Wight Centre for the Coastal Environment to improve its understanding of coastal risk now and in the long term. The research provides a tool to help assess the potential risks at coastal sites. The key to the project is the creation of detailed coastal maps for which the analysis of aerial photography is preferred over the use of historic maps. When maps are created, land surveyors assess the location of features such as clifflines. However, what a coastal geomorphologist defines as the active cliff is often different to that defined as the cliffline by land surveyors. To overcome this problem aerial photography is used so that the geomorphologist can determine the position of the active cliff over time.

The Isle of Wight study has analysed historical aerial photography from the 1940s to the present day, to assess the erosion that has taken place. However, satellite imagery or aerial photography is often received in a raw state and contains geometric errors. To obtain accurate measurements of area, direction and distance, the image must be processed to remove geometric errors. Ortho-rectification corrects the image so that it corresponds to real world map projections and co-ordnance systems. Measurements taken from ortho-rectified photographs will be analysed using a geographical information system. From this, a simple tool has been developed to estimate future risk to the coastal zone and provide valuable information to aid Isle of Wight planners and other coastal decision-makers.


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Updated: 22 March, 2013