There are many different groups of people who have an interest in coastlines, eg local residents, farmers and environmental groups.
Each group may take a different stance on how to manage coastal areas, which could lead to conflict. For example, a farmer may want coastal farmland protected, whilst the local council may want to spend money on improving services for local residents, rather than on coastal protection.
Different approaches can be divided into two categories, hold the line and managed realignment. Hold the line uses hard and soft engineering solutions to protect the coastline from further erosion. These are likely to become increasingly expensive since scientists predict that sea levels are set to rise. Managed realignment is a soft engineering option, in which coastal areas are allowed to erode and flood naturally.
Many argue that a planned approach to managing the coastline is needed. A shoreline management plan (SMP) is a large-scale report, assessing the risks associated with coastal processes. It aims to reduce the risks to people, property and the natural environment. The main objective of a SMP is to identify sustainable long-term management policies for the coast.