Defending the East Riding coastline

Information about engineered defences protecting land and infrastructure against coastal erosion and tidal flooding.

Which parts of the East Riding coastline are defended?

We defend the major towns of Bridlington, Hornsea and Withernsea, plus important infrastructure at Mappleton and Dimlington Gas Terminals. These defences are surveyed and maintained regularly to ensure that they continue to function to a high standard.

In order to reduce the risk of tidal flooding, the Environment Agency also defends strategically important drains at Barmston and Tunstall.

For more details, please follow the link below to our Coastal Explorer website:

Coastal Explorer – Coastal Information Pack (external council website)

Why doesn't the council defend the whole coastline?

Coastal defences such as sea walls and groynes tend to be expensive, short-term options which have a high impact on the landscape or environment. For these reasons, it would be unsustainable and inappropriate to defend all 85 kilometres (53 miles) of our coastline against coastal erosion.

How does the council decide where can be defended?

In 2011 the Government approved the adoption of the Flamborough Head to Gibraltar Point Shoreline Management Plan (SMP). This plan sets out which areas of the coast may be defended up to 2105, by assigning one of the following four policies to each section of our coastline:

  • Hold the existing defence line
  • Advance the existing defence line
  • Managed realignment
  • No active intervention.

Defences may be introduced, improved or maintained in areas where a 'Hold the existing defence line', 'Advance the existing defence line' or 'Managed realignment' policy is in place. These policies are limited to locations where evidence exists that the social, economic and environmental benefits of defences would outweigh the possible negative impacts for the wider coastline.

Where the SMP policy is not to defend - 'No Active Intervention' - there must be no investment in coastal defences by any individual or organisation. Instead, natural erosion processes must be allowed to continue.

More information on the development of the SMP is available. You can view the SMP on the Environment Agency’s SMP Explorer website:

Environment Agency - Find a Shoreline Management Plan (external website)

Alternatively, you can view and download the plan using the link below:

Flamborough Head to Gibraltar Point Shoreline Management Plan (pdf 3mb)

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