World Drowning Prevention Day 2023

“As Chair of the LGA Coastal SIG, I am proud we are supporting World Drowning Prevention Day, 25 July 2023.

World Drowning Prevention Day is a chance for everyone to reflect on what they can do to protect themselves and the people they love from drowning.” Cllr Ernest Gibson, South Tyneside Council

The LGA Coastal SIG annually support World Drowning Prevention Day and are delighted that we were able to support the National Water Safety Forum and RNLI to deliver an in-parliament event in our capacity as co-secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Coastal Communities on 11 July. The event heard from several speakers and was well attended by MPs who came to hear how they can support this initiative and pledge to “do one thing” for the 25th July.

Endemic problems of seaside towns continue unabated, says new Lords follow-up report

Seaside towns and communities have continued to see a lack of progress in tackling entrenched problems to enable these areas to flourish.

The Government’s Levelling up agenda, which aspires to target areas in the most need, is welcome but more needs to be done to target seaside towns and communities which are yet to receive the support they need. The responsibility for seaside towns and communities ought to be allocated to a Levelling Up Ministerial portfolio. This will give these areas the recognition they need and add a necessary voice in discussions on levelling up.

The Government needs to work with the Local Government Association, coastal interest groups, the private sector, the third sector and other stakeholders to develop a coastal communities strategy in order to demonstrate clear mechanisms to successfully address the long-standing disparities faced by seaside towns and communities.

The draft strategy, covering issues such as transport and digital connectivity, education, and health and wellbeing, should be put to the House of Commons Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee to ensure effective scrutiny of the strategy ahead of implementation. This work should be started as a matter of urgency to ensure that disparities do not become further entrenched.

Initiatives such as the Levelling Up Partnerships are to be commended and are positive steps towards place-based solutions, however the Government needs to ensure that lessons learned and best practice is shared to benefit other areas that face similar challenges.

These are some of the key findings and recommendations of a new report from the House of Lords Liaison Committee that follows up the 2019 report by the Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities.

Lord Bassam of Brighton, former Chair of the Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities, said:

“Four years on from our original report we have seen little progress in seaside towns and communities and their endemic problems continue to persist.

“The Government’s Levelling up agenda wasn’t really a ‘thing’ when we carried out our inquiry, but the aspiration to target areas in the most need aligns with many of the conclusions and recommendations in our 2019 report to support seaside towns and communities.

“What these communities need now is urgent action to address the combination of deeply entrenched issues they face. This demands a long-term strategy from the Government. Not a succession of short-term initiatives. It must find a way to provide the support needed for effective regeneration and to address systemic challenges.”

The committee’s other findings and recommendations include:

  • While the Government has recognised the complexity of the current funding landscapes and the pitfalls involved in the bidding systems in place, the Government’s funding review must establish a clearer and more effectively targeted system. The review needs to acknowledge and address the need for long-term funding to address deep-rooted challenges faced in these areas and create sustainable change in seaside towns and communities.
  • The Committee welcomes steps to grant greater powers to local areas to enable greater place-based decision making. It remains essential that coastal towns and communities are not lost amongst the challenges and competing concerns that local authorities face, so future deals and local authority arrangements should reflect the needs of seaside towns and communities in their remit and appropriate geographical area.
  • The Committee reiterates the 2019 recommendation that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities should work with the Department for Transport to ensure that areas of most need are properly prioritised for planning and investment. The current approach is clearly not effective, and innovative solutions are needed to provide transport networks that work for coastal areas
  • The Government must keep the Education Investment Areas and Priority Education Investment Areas selected under review to assess whether these are effectively targeting the areas of greatest need.

PDF of report –

HTML of report –

Quarter 1 2023 Update

We held our Quarterly meeting on Thursday 29 June online with updates from our partners and presentations including one on National Drowning Prevention Day 25 July 2023. We encourage all our members to support this Day and highlight the importance of water safety. For further information please see

Quarter 1 (April-June) 2023 LGA Coastal SIG Update
Beccy MacDonald-Lofts, Lead Officer, LGA Coastal SIG

This Quarter

Several of our SIG Local Authority Members underwent the process of unitarisation in April 2023 and over half our Members held Local Elections in May 2023. Our LGA Coastal SIG Chair, Cllr Ernest Gibson was re-elected locally. We will be approaching member Local Authority contacts to confirm Lead Officer and Elected Member representatives for the SIG in June 2023.

As Co-Secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Coastal Communities, further key briefings had been held including a session on Ocean Literacy and the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in early May 2023. Comments about the need for further Ocean Literacy education and campaigns related to plastic pollution were highlighted as of key importance by MPs, including collaborative work with Water Companies, Local Authorities and Farmers. The larger global issue of good scientific data sets and recorded ocean variables was also raised as something that was lacking. MPs engaged in discussion about the potential for broader and globally coordinated data sets. The Lead Officer attended the APPG AGM to present a review of the Coastal Enquiry Sessions from 2022-23 and the proposed plan for Coastal Inquiry Sessions for 2023-24. The paper was agreed.

The Lead Officer attended the House of Lords Liaison Committee evidence session in March 2023 to give follow up evidence to the Regeneration of Seaside Towns and Communities Committee Report from 2019 on behalf of the LGA Coastal SIG. Comprehensive evidence of the impact of Levelling Up on coastal communities and the challenges they face was presented. Further information is available on the SIG website here.

Coastal Landfill has continued to gain media attention and our Coastal Landfill Officer Lead, Mark Stratton had been shortlisted in the category of ‘Outstanding Individual Contribution’ in the LGC Awards which are taking place in June 2023 for his work on Coastal Landfill.

The Coastal Water Quality questionnaire was shared with SIG Members and Officers in April 2023 as part of work being carried out by the Coastal Water Quality Working Group to gather information about water quality and issues Local Authorities were dealing with in relation to this. This closed on the 31st May 2023 and responses are being collated to gather relevant information to inform the Work Plan for the Working Group.

The Lead Officer continued to attend regular meetings with the MMO and Environment Agency and further engagement with the National Infrastructure Commission, and the Coastal Youth Advisory Board among others.

In Process

The LGA Coastal SIG Secretariat continued to work in partnership with the Coastal Communities Alliance, OneCoast on the APPG and 3Cs projects. A workshop had been held to discuss how the SIG in partnership with OneCoast and key partners would continue and expand its reach in its capacity as the Co-Secretariat for the APPG for Coastal Communities. A virtual engagement room has been included within the next funding bid round to engage a wider number of MPs in the work of the APPG along with several sessions planned for this coming year including Coastal Landfill and Beach & Water Safety.

The Lead Officer has continued to participate in projects relevant to the SIG including the SMP-R and NCERM2 Technical Advisory Groups, the Coastal Handbook Steering Group, Coastal Guidance steering group, is working with Defra on the Coastal Concordat, working with the Blue Marine Foundation on National Marine Parks and sits on the Central Design Group for offshore wind for National Grid.

The LGA Coastal SIG and Motion for the Ocean KnowledgeHub (Khub) platforms had been launched with focus groups for each key work area and regular threads to help facilitate helpful discussions. Members and Officers were all sent an invite to join the LGA Coastal SIG KHub as it is membership only. The Motion for the Ocean group is open to all and can be found here.

Next Quarter

A SMP Explorer functionality demo for Elected Members would be taking place via Zoom on Monday 5 June 2023 before Flood and Coast Conference. The SIG had been selected to run a workshop at Flood and Coast Conference on 7 June 2023 ‘Moving Minds: Supporting adaptation through better conversations’ to assist in the key work area of Coastal Adaptation.

The APPG Parliamentary Briefing on Beach and Water Safety was scheduled to take place on 14 June 2023. All Coastal and Estuarine MPs had received an invite to this. Sessions on Seaside Heritage, the Housing Crisis are under development. An in-person event is scheduled to take place to highlight International Drowning Prevention Day 25 July 2023 in collaboration with National Water Safety Forum/RNLI.

The Forward Workplan 2023/24 will be ready for circulation to our membership shortly with slightly reframed objectives and progress tracking built in.

Working Groups

Our working groups have been focusing on the development of their work plans for 2023/24 over the past quarter. A reminder that these are:

Our working groups are open to all Members and officers, contact

Thank You

Thank you to all Officer Leads and working group members for their time, effort and commitment to their roles.

Any queries to  

World Ocean’s Day 2023 Coastal SIG Update

Cllr Ernest Gibson, Beccy MacDonald-Lofts and Bethany Handson have been busy this week raising the profile of coastal communities, discussing the challenges they face and exploring potential opportunities for the future at Flood & Coast 2023.

After the opening remarks, Cllr Gibson had a brief chat with Minister Pow regarding the issues facing coastal communities and the work of the Coastal SIG.

Minister Pow was familiar with our Coastal Landfill report and raised her awareness of the issue.

Other matters were also discussed and Cllr Gibson has been invited to talk about issues further with the Minister at a future time. We will be updating our membership as this progresses.

Lead Officer Beccy and Officer Lead Sharon Bleese lead an excellent workshop on “Moving Minds: Supporting adaptations through better conversations” with ~50 participants (despite the early start of 8:45am!).

A report is being produced on the outcomes of the session which will be released shortly.

Thank you to all the Coastal SIG Senior Officers Group members who assisted with the event.

Collaboration is key to changing the future for our coastal communities and we thank all our partners for their ongoing support.

Liaison Committee – Review of Regeneration of Seaside Towns and Communities Evidence Session

In 2019, House of Lords’ Regeneration of Seaside Towns and Communities Committee published their report and recommendations for government (please click here to view). Today, the House of Lords’ Liaison Committee held their evidence sessions looking into how these recommendations have been delivered and the impact that any delivery has had.

Our Lead Officer, Beccy MacDonald-Lofts, represented the LGA Coastal SIG at the first evidence session on Monday 20 March providing comprehensive evidence of the impact of levelling up on coastal communities and the challenges that they face.

The questions posed by the Committee centred around the funding formulas, funding mechanisms and the Levelling Up White Paper outcomes including the proposed devolution mechanism and the amalgamation of coastal LEPs.

The main points raised on behalf of the LGA Coastal SIG were:

  • Changes in the physical, human and natural capital have changed the needs of coastal communities since the publication of the Regeneration of Seaside Towns and Communities Committee Report;
  • The current funding mechanisms are not delivering for coastal communities;
  • Funding mechanisms need to move away from short-term (> 3 years) delivery and need to be longer (> 9 years) to support real change of embedded barriers to regeneration;
  • Funding mechanisms need to be more strategic with a focus on an overall objectives; allowing different sectors to collaborate with local authorities to deliver for these unique communities;
  • The metrics used in assessing Levelling Up need and delivery are not granular enough to ensure an accurate assessment of impact upon coastal communities;
  • The amalgamation of the Coastal Communities Fund into the Shared Prosperities Fund has not only reduced the input of the amount being incorporated from the profits of the Crown Estate but there is a question over whether this money is ring-fenced for coastal communities;
  • The Communities on the Edge Report was praised for it’s comprehensive review of the impact of Levelling Up on coastal communities;
  • The agenda for improving transport and digital connectivity has not delivered and many communities are without the necessary transport connections to support regeneration nor have basic digital connectivity;
  • The opportunity that devolution offers is seen as a positive move forwards, allowing for local areas to have the autonomy that is needed for such complex and unique communities;
  • The amalgamation of LEPs into local authorities could enhance local authority offer but could also mean that the network of Coastal Community LEPs – reformed after a recommendation of the Committee’s Report – could be lost impacting their participation with the OneCoast coalition Advisory Group.

The Communities on the Edge Report, produced by Pragmatix Advisory through funding from the LGA Coastal SIG, Coastal Communities Alliance, Coastal Partnership Network and other partners, proved invaluable and has clearly made an impression upon those within the Committee. To view this Report please click here.

REVIVING BRTAIN’S COAST – Why it’s time to help communities on the edge

Communities on Britain’s coastline have fallen behind the rest of the country but the government could unlock their potential by adjusting its Levelling Up policy, according to research published today (Wednesday 1st February 2023).

Household income in coastal areas is almost £3,000 per year lower than in non-coastal communities, with nearly one in five jobs below the living wage – a greater proportion than for England overall.

Low pay is one of a wide range of disadvantages detailed in Communities on the edge, a study commissioned by the Coastal Communities Alliance (CCA), the Local Government Association Coastal Special Interest Group (LGA Coastal SIG) and the Coastal Partnerships Network (CPN) from Pragmatix Advisory.

Community leaders in coastal areas are calling for sustained, long-term  investment to address the unfair disparities between coastal and non-coastal parts of Britain.

Sally-Ann Hart MP,  chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Coastal Communities says:  “The additional challenges faced by people living on the coast are so entrenched that help is needed from central government to stop them falling further behind.

“Our beautiful coastline is an incredible national asset.  But it urgently needs sustainable long-term investment to make the most of the opportunities for growth – particularly in green jobs which can support the government’s climate goals.”

The research reveals there is a risk the government’s existing Levelling Up agenda fails to identify the massive challenges faced by coastal communities.  

Its 2022 Levelling Up White Paper analyses performance at a regional or city regional level, missing hidden disparities contained in more local data.

For example, the East of England has the third highest regional average weekly pay, although parts of the region have some of the lowest  earnings in the country. The hidden problem of low pay is revealed in data available at district, rather than regional level.

Ministers should consider using the more detailed data to target the  communities most in need, and make sure coastal areas do not miss out on Levelling Up, says the report.

The study reveals many ways in which coastal communities remain in danger of being left behind non-coastal areas.

In coastal communities:

  • A higher proportion of children live in workless households.
  • Disabled people are less likely to find work.
  • There is a damaging “digital divide” with gigabit broadband and 4G provision lagging behind.
  • A lower proportion of children achieve GCSE qualifications in maths and English.
  • Children are more likely to be persistently absent from school.
  • People suffer poorer health outcomes, with higher rates of depression, suicide, alcohol-related hospital admissions, and emergency admissions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
  • There are fewer council houses, leading to a greater reliance on the private rented sector where housing costs are higher.
  • Cost of living pressures are more keenly felt, particularly in peripheral areas where it is impossible to access cheaper mains gas.

The report says some of the challenges faced by coastal communities have developed over years or decades, and will require longer term funding strategies.

It says the government should consider:

  • Changing the local government funding formula to better reflect deprivation and the needs of coastal communities.
  • Long term, sustainable funding to support projects across their full lifespan – at the moment help for coastal communities is often time-limited.
  • Strategic funding which would allow authorities to merge different streams to achieve levelling up in coastal communities.

The right support would boost growth and see coastal areas contribute far more to the wider UK economy, says the report.

Councillor Ernest Gibson, Chair of the LGA Coastal SIG, says:

“The coastal fringe is home to some of the most unique yet fragile communities within the country. Their position on the periphery provides them with a host of opportunities as well as challenges. The government must consider sustainable long-term solutions to allow our valuable coastal communities to thrive, maximise the significant opportunities that exist around tourism and the green economy, and build more resilience into their futures.”

Increases in home and hybrid working are an opportunity for coastal communities to attract more skilled and highly paid workers.

Coastal areas already generate more renewable energy than the national average, and investment in offshore wind farms, wave and tidal power has the potential for even more sustainable growth.

Investing in year-round tourism would offer coastal communities the chance to benefit from huge growth in the UK’s visitor economy.

The Communities on the edge study will be discussed at the next meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coastal Communities on Wednesday 1st February 2023.

Impact of Coastal Erosion on Coastal Communities – an LGA Coastal SIG response

The LGA Coastal SIG have a membership of 57 councils, covering 60% of the English coastline and serving 16 million people. Coastal Communities are on the frontline of climate change, facing the direct impacts of the increased frequency of severe storms, sea-level rise and tidal surges. Erosion rates and the frequency of flood events are increasing at an unprecedented rate, and yet these communities are not receiving all the support that they need.

We work closely with the Environment Agency and welcome the support that they provide including the funding support to some of our member councils who are leading the way in transition and adaptation through the Coastal Transition Accelerator Programme (CTAP) and Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme (FCRIP), however, at the moment, there is no plan from government for a long-term funding mechanism to support these communities and people are facing the devastating situation where they are losing their homes and livelihoods into the sea today. We are calling on government to recognise the impact on these communities to ensure that they receive the financial support that they need to adapt and transition to a new future. We also call for those suffering from coastal erosion to be treated and recognised in the same way as those being impacted by flooding as currently the mechanisms are very different and unequal.

The research carried out by One Home provides information using the open-source data that is currently being updated. We, the LGA Coastal SIG, are engaging with the refresh of Shoreline Management Plans and the National Coastal Erosion Risk Maps to ensure that these become more accessible for those being directly impacted. We are concerned that Shoreline Management Plans are not currently statutory and therefore do not need to be considered in planning – we feel that this needs to change as the Shoreline Management Plans are integral to ensuring our coastal communities are sustainable into the future and call on government to make a change in policy on this matter.

The government is pushing for an acceleration in green energy and the blue/green economy, however the coastal communities on the frontline of this are not being considered thoroughly and should be renumerated for the situation that they now face as a result of climate change caused by energy consumption. We therefore call for a funding stream to be made available from energy companies to coastal communities to support their adaptation and transition.

The issues:

  • No compensation route for those losing homes or livelihoods through coastal erosion
  • No funding available for local government authorities or community groups to begin the process of adaptation or transition
  • Inequality in the support for those suffering from coastal erosion and flooding
  • Accelerated green energy growth but no consideration of the impact of the energy sector on coastal communities

Our asks:

  • Long-term funding streams to be made available to those communities needing to adapt and transition
  • A funding mechanism to compensate those losing homes and livelihoods resulting from accelerated change
  • Shoreline Management Plans to become statutory
  • A funding stream from the energy sector to those communities on the frontline of climate change

Our coastal communities are on the frontline and need support. Whilst many are aware of the future of their neighbourhoods some are not and we advocate for local community engagement on this matter to reduce the direct impact on these communities as we have sadly seen before at Fishbourne in Wales. The long-lasting impact on their health and wellbeing has never been measured but we know that people are impacted not just financially by the news of their homes on the frontline and hope government will engage to help make these communities sustainable, resilient and thriving.

Cllr Ernest Gibson, Chair of the LGA Coastal SIG said “Whilst both the CTAP and FCRIP programmes are working towards mechanisms to support those coastal communities most at risk, we call on the government to do more. The impacts of risk faced by our communities are not just financial, they impact upon mental health and well-being. More must be done to help make these communities sustainable, resilient and thriving now and for generations to come.”

For further information on coastal erosion please visit our Coastal Adaptation Working Group page.

Marine Licensing & Coastal Concordat Workshop

The LGA Coastal SIG, MMO and Defra have collaborated to develop a workshop specifically aimed at coastal council officers and planners with an interest in marine licensing and the Coastal Concordat. This collaboration comes as a result of requests from our senior officers group (SIGSOG) on the need for clarification on a number of related matters.

The event will be a series of informative presentations, interactive sessions and discussions to ensure that participants glean the information that they need and we thank all those officers who have already supported the development of this workshop by providing detail on the areas where further understanding is needed.

Content will include:

  • MMO Overview/area of responsibility
  • Marine Licensing Overview
  • Marine Licensing Process
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Coastal Concordat

Coastal Landfill webinar with LGA

We are proud to announce that in response to the release of the LGA Coastal SIG’s Coastal Landfill Working Group/Coastal Group Network report on the Coastal Landfill Survey, the Local Government Association (LGA) are hosting a webinar on the issue on 12 January 2023.

The Coastal landfill: a national perspective on issues associated with coastal flood and erosion risk webinar will be chaired by our Chair Cllr Ernest Gibson (South Tyneside Council) and speakers include our Officer Lead for Coastal Landfill Mark Stratton (Coastal Partners) alongside Professor Kate Spencer (Queen Mary University London).

To join in this Lunch & Learn event on 12 January please click here to be directed to the LGA events page.

For further information on our Coastal Landfill work please visit our Coastal Landfill Working Group page.

Survey exposes potential scale of coastal landfill time bomb

Please find below a press release on the Coastal Landfill Survey Report

We all recognise the devastating impacts of coastal erosion, flooding and pollution across our coastline, however, there has been little acknowledgement of the “hidden silent ticking time bombs” that coastal landfill sites present.

For 2 years the Local Government Association Coastal Special Interest Group (LGA Coastal SIG), in partnership with the Coastal Group Network (CGN) have been working together under a “call to arms” to better understand the challenge of coastal landfill and its impact on the coast. This summer they circulated a survey around their membership to try and better understand the scale of this issue – the results are ringing alarm bells with findings from 26 coastal councils highlighting that some sites are already spilling large amounts of waste onto cliffs and beaches, 75% of coastal landfill sites are next to at least one environmentally designated site and there are significant gaps in understanding of what waste is present within these sites.

Cllr Laws, Member Champion for Coastal Landfill at LGA Coastal SIG and Torridge District Councillor lives less than a mile away from a coastal landfill site and told us of the difficulty in “digesting the enormity of the problem facing us, vast areas of rubbish deposited on low lying coastal and  estuary sites, not suitable to be built on, so an easy target for the disposal of vast quantiles of toxic rubbish, buried, hidden away, laying fallow for years, now with global warming and rising sea levels these are now hidden silent ticking time bombs.”

The issue of coastal landfill, and funding to find solutions, is not a new one.  From the mid 1990’s and the early days of shoreline management planning the problems with coastal landfill sites and the risk to them from either flooding or erosion have been widely acknowledged.Mark Stratton, Coastal Manager at Coastal Partners and Officer Lead for Coastal Landfill at the LGA Coastal SIG and the CGN “call to arms” theme lead says “There are hundreds of coastal landfill sites at risk of tidal flooding and erosion. During visits to sites, I have been overwhelmed by the scale of the problem especially the threat of waste eroding or leaching out onto the often-designated natural coastal environment. I truly hope that this matter gets the attention from government that it deserves to avoid environmental catastrophe’. Cllr Laws also echoed Mark’s hope for recognition by telling us “My hope is that this very detailed report, will at last trigger action to alleviate a national disaster.”

The Report further supports recent work by Queen Mary University of London. Professor Kate Spencer, who led the research said “Our work has shown that legacy landfills contain a variety of waste materials and pollutants that could have a significant impact on the coastal environment if the sites are flooded by sea water or erode. For many coastal landfills the best approach may be to maintain coastal defences, but we also need to develop sustainable approaches to remediate, relocate or recycle landfilled waste. This will all require significant funding”. The Report found that some respondents estimated that the life costs of work needed would be over £30 million at each of their sites. 

Whilst the survey and it’s Report has reignited discussions with Defra around the issue and the LGA Coastal SIG and CGN welcome collaborative opportunities to work together to find long-term solutions Cllr Ernest Gibson, Chair of the LGA Coastal SIG highlighted that “Pollution events are happening today and so we, the LGA Coastal SIG, are seeking to explore with councils and government where potential relaxation to funding rules might allow for any identified underspend to be redirected to allow councils to deal with the problems we are facing now. Therefore we invite government to contact us on this as a matter of urgency”.

Change is needed today, not tomorrow.