Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Coastal erosion

Coastal erosion


The Coastal Protection Act 1949 (Part 1) gives powers to Coastal Protection Authorities (Local Authorities with coastlines) to carry out works needed to protect land from erosion or encroachment by the sea, inside and outside of their area as necessary, subject to the approval of the Scottish Government. However, the authorities are not obliged to protect eroding coastlines.

What You Must Do

Landowners are responsible for the management and prevention of coastal erosion. Schemes proposed by landowners require the consent of the Coast Protection Authority. Depending upon the nature and scale of the works you may also require planning permission. Road, rail and harbour authorities do not require consent; however, they are required to submit a notice of proposed works to the Coast Protection Agency.

Further to these requirements, because coast protection works below Mean High Water of Spring tide (MHWS) might affect or interfere with marine transport or navigation, you will need a consent/licence from the Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team.

If your work includes movement of beach sediment or the erection of structure below HWMOST (High Water Mark of Ordinary Spring Tides), you will need a licence from the Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team.

Useful Information

NatureScot - Summary of legislation

NatureScot guidance on managing coastal erosion in beach/dune systems

Marine Licensing in Scotland – Scottish Government


Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland central government departments are responsible for the construction, maintenance and repair of coastal defences in their possession.

Using the ‘Bateman formula’ coastal works that are deemed necessary are carried out by the department or authority responsible for the asset at risk.

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