The Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline (SCOPAC) is an influential network of local authorities and other key organisations that share an interest in the sustainable management of the shoreline of central southern England.
The group came together in 1986 following a two day conference held on the Isle of Wight (‘Problems Associated with the Coastline’ April 1985), in order to help resolve a number of issues:
- The complexity of the natural processes at work along the coastline;
- The many issues and conflicting interests affecting the coastal zone;
- The roles and responsibilities of the multitude of local and government authorities, agencies and other bodies with an interest in shoreline management;
- The degree of isolation in which these authorities were obliged to take decisions at that time, which so frequently have knock-on effects on the interests of others.
The EA Coastal Strategic Overview
In April 2008 the Environment Agency was given a ‘strategic overview for sea flooding and coastal erosion risk management’ (Coastal Strategic Overview) by Defra, an important development which meant that the EA took responsibility for much of what had been Defra’s Coast Protection function and for the first time one organisation had overall responsibility for the management of all coastal risks. It also created fewer, bigger and more strategic regional Coastal Groups, with sixteen becoming the seven Coastal Groups of England that exist today.
Whilst the Environment Agency and local coast protection authorities had been working together effectively in many ways for a number of years, the Strategic Overview provided the opportunity for closer collaboration on coastal risk management, particularly in the context of climate change.
SCOPAC and The Southern Coastal Group
The strategic Coastal Group covering the SCOPAC region is The Southern Coastal Group (SCG). SCOPAC and the SCG have achieved significant benefits across the region by working together for over 30 years. However, there are now a number of increasing pressures on coastal management which are threatening the wider sector. These include; climate change and sea level rise, public sector austerity and budget cuts, retirement of knowledgeable senior engineers and shifting policy and guidance.
The importance of working together: this booklet (published March 2019) has been developed to showcase the work of SCOPAC and the SCG and to illustrate why now, more than ever, the continuation and reinvigoration of the groups is paramount to ensure we continue to work together effectively to face these new challenges.