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The soft coastline of eastern England is dynamic, with much of it subject to the risk of erosion or flooding. A number of internationally important coastal nature conservation sites are under threat. This paper explores the character and reasoning behind changing coastal management policies and governance practices in England. It reveals how Natural England is tackling these changes, notably with regard to establishing reconstituted nature conservation sites and re-designed coastlines. Such an approach requires the close involvement of policy leaders, agency officers, local maritime authorities and local residents. This paper explains how participatory processes play a critical role in the design of new coastlines that are ecologically and geomorphologically sustainable yet enable local communities to survive and flourish. A case study involving a visioning exercise at Winterton-on-Sea in Norfolk, UK, highlights the many practical difficulties around planning for the uncertain future of internationally important nature conservation sites, and local economies and communities. Future moves toward sustainable coastal alignments will have to involve a wide mix of public and civic bodies, as well as local communities, and will be underpinned by risk-based planning and well-researched adaptation and relocation arrangements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-213
Number of pages11
JournalLand Use Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009


  • Nature conservation
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Participatory shoreline planning
  • Coastal management
  • Sustainable coastal governance

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