Littoral areas of the British Isles present an array of properties and features which have long been exploited by human populations and have contributed to the wealth and the quality of life of the nation. Past and ongoing differentiation in uses of coastal zones has led to conflicts ranging from deleterious effects on supporting ecosystems to symbiosis with human activities. This paper aims to elicit the main forces influencing the development of coastal areas and the means available to assess the present use and manage future exploitation of the coastal zone, following the P-S-I-R Framework and an ecosystem function-based valuation methodology. A variety of pressures and their trends is analysed (climate change, population and tourism changes, port development, hydrocarbon and marine aggregate extraction and pollution). All these factors are examined in the context of the sustainable use of coastal resources and on the basis of an interdisciplinary ecological economics approach.