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Services in Christchurch

Coast protection and management

Coronavirus (COVID-19): change to service

On advice from the government regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), some services have changed. Find our latest information and advice on using our Beaches in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

See further information about changes to services.

Coast management

Management of the Christchurch coast between Mudeford Sandbank to the West and Chewton Bunny (Highcliffe) to the East is guided by the Poole and Christchurch Bays Shoreline Management Plan (SMP2).

The shoreline management plan covers the length of coast between Hurst Spit near Milford-On-Sea and Durlston Head near Swanage, including the harbours of Poole and Christchurch. Shoreline management plans are developed by Coastal Groups with members mainly from local councils and the Environment Agency. They identify the most sustainable approach to managing the flood and coastal erosion risks to the coastline over the next 20, 50 and 100 years. 

The council manages 10.3km of coast including Christchurch Harbour. On the coast outside of the harbour, there are 50 groynes, 4km of sea wall, 2km of vulnerable cliffs and 3 hectares of special salt-tolerant grass sward. 

See Christchurch coastline and coast protection measures for more information.

Coast defence works

There are 2 categories of coastal works:

  • maintenance works - the day to day repairs to maintain the defences
  • capital schemes such as new or replacement sea defences

Maintenance works

We carry our routine maintenance works including the repair of defective groynes, cleaning sea-walls, painting handrails and grass cutting. We are not required to carry out maintenance works under the Coastal Act. 

If storm damage occurs the cost is usually taken from the maintenance revenue budget but if the damage is major, costs are capitalised and repairs are carried out under the Coastal Act.

Capital schemes

A 25 year capital programme was completed in 2000, which stabilised the Christchurch coastline outside of the harbour.  

Coast protection

There are two different types of coast defence works:

  • works which protect against flooding of the land (sea defence works) - carried out in accordance with the Land Drainage Act 1991

  • works which protect against erosion where the land behind the works is higher than any tidal flooding level (coast protection works) - carried out under the Coast Protection Act 1949

The government Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs gives maritime district councils grant-in-aid for carrying out works on the coastline. These grants are distributed by the Environment Agency. Works can only go ahead if it can be shown that they are technically sound and environmentally, socially and economically justified. 

Works eligible for a grant-in-aid

Grant-in-aid can be used for projects to:

  • build new flood and coastal defences such as channels, walls or embankments
  • build new structures such as sluices or pumping stations
  • improve existing defences and structures
  • benefit wildlife – for example, to improve or protect habitats
  • dredge and de-silt – one off projects to bring a channel to a condition where it can then be maintained
  • carry out beach management works – recharge, replenishment and re-nourishment work
  • carry out recycling work – mainly to counteract long shore drift
  • enable fish or eel passage or screening – works to halt and reverse the decline in European eel stock on FCERM assets

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