The Southern Coastal Group and SCOPAC
SCOPAC and the origins of the Southern Coastal Group
Prior to the formation of the existing seven strategic coastal groups of England management of the country’s shoreline had for some years been the remit of 16 regional groups that worked with Defra, the Environment Agency (EA), local authorities and other organisations. The regional group for central southern England was The Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline (SCOPAC), one of the longest established groups of its kind and influential in promoting both conceptual and practical innovation in the field of sustainable shoreline management.
SCOPAC had been born out of a meeting between officers, councillors and statutory bodies on the Isle of Wight in 1986. It was recognised that there was a need for neighbouring LA’s and organisations to work together more closely, communicating regularly, sharing knowledge and collaborating, in order to develop a more holistic understanding of the complex coastal issues facing the region, without the limitations of LA boundaries.
On 22 June 2007, the then Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Ian Pearson, announced new arrangements for the EA’s overview role on the future management of coastal erosion and sea flooding in England, including:
- Taking the lead for all sea flooding risk in England, and fund and oversee coastal erosion works undertaken by local authorities.
- Ensuring that sustainable long-term Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) are in place for the English coastline.
- Working with local authorities to ensure that the resulting flood and coastal erosion works are properly planned, prioritised, procured, completed and maintained to get the best value for the public purse.
The statement included the intention that fewer, larger coastal groups should become more strategic and, working with the EA, play a stronger role in the future planning of flood and coastal erosion risk management. These arrangements represented an important development, meaning that, for the first time, one organisation had overall responsibility for the management of all coastal risks.
SCOPAC at that time comprised a Full Conference of elected members, officers and interest groups, with a separate Technical Officer’s Working Group carrying out research and providing feedback to the Full Conference. It was the SCOPAC Technical Officer’s Working Group that went on to form the Southern Coastal Group in 2008.
The Southern Coastal Group (SCG) and Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline (SCOPAC) is the Regional Coastal Group for central southern England.
Originally formed as separate groups [SCOPAC and the origins of the SCG], SCOPAC (est. 1986) and SCG (est. 2008) achieved significant benefits across the region by working together for many years. By 2019 however, increasing pressures on coastal management were threatening the wider sector – including climate change and sea level rise, public sector austerity and budget cuts, the retirement of knowledgeable senior engineers and shifting policy and guidance.
The two groups merged in 2020 with the aim of streamlining deliverables in research, policy, the environment and engineering. We now work as one organisation to share and develop research, best practice and resources within the regions.
As a technical group principally comprising coastal managers, planners and others with a knowledge of shoreline management, who operate in a strategic framework, our primary objectives are:
- To be a source of expertise on the coast and to advise and influence the Regional Flood and Coastal Committees (RFCC) and other stakeholders on matters relating to the 648km coast from Portland Bill in Dorset to Selsey Bill in West Sussex, including the whole of the coastline of the Isle of Wight.
- To contribute to the Environment Agency’s preparation and implementation of an investment strategy for the management of flood and coastal erosion risks including both long-term plans and delivery of annual programmes of works and maintenance.
We also play a key role in:
- The successful development and delivery of research in the field of coastal risk management.
- The monitoring and coordination of regional Shoreline Management Plans.
- Encouraging the development of a co-ordinated approach to the collection, storage and dissemination of data relevant to the effective management of risks at the shoreline.
- Ensuring the views of member organisations are considered in the development and implementation of national policies and initiatives relating to coastal risk management.
- Identifying, developing and sharing best practice with regard to procurement.
- Encouraging active political involvement in coastal risk management by its constituent members.
For further information please see the SCG and SCOPAC Constitution and Terms of Reference
SCOPAC and The Southern Coastal Group: The importance of working together
The importance of working together booklet (published March 2019, prior to the 2020 merger) was developed to showcase our achievements and to illustrate why the continuation and reinvigoration of the groups was paramount to ensure we continue to work together effectively to face new challenges.
Download the Booklet (PDF, 7Mb)