Protecting Heritage

Major project 2022-2024 \ Alex Hillawi and Charlie White, Coastal Partners: funded by £90,000 Southern and Wessex RFCC local levy, with £10,000 SCOPAC contribution


A large number of designated heritage sites are located along the SCOPAC coastline. Many of these have either historically benefited from Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) protection or in some cases perform a direct coastal defence function themselves. Many of these coastal defences and assets are now reaching the end of their design life leaving them increasingly vulnerable to coastal change. Management of these sites is obfuscated by a lack of clarity surrounding responsibility, accountability, and funding.

Where historic sites sit within a wider FCERM funded scheme, protecting homes and businesses, appropriate management of the heritage asset these complexities often result in significantly increased costs, in some cases, making the scheme unaffordable. Where heritage assets do not sit within a qualifying FCERM Grant in Aid scheme, they increase the risk of their permanent, irretrievable loss or damage.

A better understanding of complexities regarding the management of these important historic sites along with a body of evidence to communicate them is essential to the FCERM sector in order to secure alternative funding options to appropriately manage sites at risk of flood and coastal erosion and avoid increased costs to FCERM schemes.

Aims & Objectives

The aim of this study is to identify important heritage assets and sites at risk from coastal flooding and erosion within the SCOPAC region and raise awareness of the issues and risks associated with their management when it comes to delivering coastal schemes. 

The key project objectives are to:

  • Appraise current guidance and policies in relation to the protection of these assets;
  • Investigate the limited funding mechanisms available to Risk Management Authorities to do so;
  • Raise awareness of any limitations that hinder vital maintenance and prevent irretrievable damage of these locally, regionally, and nationally important assets;
  • Highlight some of the key issues specifically faced by local authorities who are often seen as the responsible party when it comes to maintenance and protection of these key historic sites, particularly when they become exposed to risks from coastal flooding and erosion.

Expected Outputs

The key output of the study is to evidence the many management uncertainties and complexities which underpin the management of Heritage sites within the FCERM sector, providing a strong body of evidence which can facilitate effective communication to raise awareness of these issues.

The main deliverables will be:

  • A GIS based study, with corresponding infographics offering a regional breakdown of designated Heritage sites at risk along the SCOPAC coastline;
  • A number of carefully selected case studies which outline the various management complexities associated with these sites;
  • A detailed report;
  • An infographic summarising the key findings.

It is anticipated that raising awareness of this issue will be a first step in securing alternative funding options to protect or move heritage sites at risk of flood and coastal erosion and avoid increased costs to FCERM schemes in the future.

Picture © Zack Maynard, 408 Photography

Hurst Castle – the collapse of a section of the East Wing Wall, February 2021