The Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline (SCOPAC) is an
influential network of local authorities and other key organisations that share an
interest in the sustainable management of the shoreline of central southern England.
The group came together in 1986 following a two day conference held on the Isle of
Wight ('Problems Associated with the Coastline' April 1985), in order to help resolve
a number of issues:
The complexity of the natural processes at work along the coastline;
The many issues and conflicting interests affecting the coastal zone;
The roles and responsibilities of the multitude of local and government authorities,
agencies and other bodies with an interest in shoreline management;
The degree of isolation in which these authorities were obliged to take decisions
at that time, which so frequently have knock-on effects on the interests of others.
Our primary aims are:
To provide a strong political forum for coastal local authorities and other organisations
with an interest in coastal risk management along the south coast of England;
To raise and sanction funding for the successful operation of SCOPAC and for the
development and implementation of its research programme.
The inaugural meeting in October 1986 established a two-tier system with a Full Conference
comprising a forum for elected members (mainly local authority politicians), interest
groups and technical officers. The aim of the Full Conference was to meet and exchange
information, and to approve a sub-regional research programme.
A separate Officers' Working Group, comprising technical officers, was established
to investigate coastal issues, carry out research and provide feedback to the Full
A distinction in SCOPAC's membership risk was established between Full and Associate
members, with both categories electing one member representative and contributing
to an annual subscription.
Full members have a voting entitlement and make an additional, substantially larger,
input to the budget dedicated to furthering SCOPAC's research objectives. In the
years 1986-2008 SCOPAC commissioned more than £1 million worth of valuable research
to the benefit of its members.
A Strategic Overview for Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management
In April 2008 the Environment Agency was given a 'strategic overview for flood and
coastal erosion risk management' by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs (Defra). This important development meant that, for the first time, one
organisation had overall responsibility for the management of all coastal risks.
As part of the strategic overview the existing sixteen regional coastal defence groups
for England and Wales were restructured with the aim of providing a streamlined and
focussed delivery of coastal erosion risk management for the future [see Coastal
Groups of England].
In response to these changes SCOPAC Full Conference re-established itself as an important
political voice for the coast of southern central England, whilst the former SCOPAC
Officers' Working Group became the Southern Coastal Group.
Whilst the Environment Agency and local coast protection authorities had been working
together effectively in many ways for a number of years, the strategic overview provides
the opportunity for closer collaboration on coastal risk management, particularly
in the context of climate change.
The figure above illustrates ways in which SCOPAC, together with the regional coastal
groups, are working with the Environment Agency to fulfil national aspirations.