Coastal protection

On 1 April the single new council for North Yorkshire launched replacing Scarborough Borough Council and other local authorites in North Yorkshire.

To find your Councillor or to view minutes, meetings and agendas please visit the North Yorkshire Council website.

Scarborough Borough Council is one of eighty-eight maritime district councils in whom is vested the responsibility for controlling coastal erosion under the Coast Protection Act 1949 (CPA).

The CPA is administered by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and is broadly intended to allow Coast Protection Authorities, such as SBC, to carry out capital works, whilst routine maintenance and general husbandry of the coast is regarded as a local function.

The Environment Agency (EA) is the primary sea defence authority for England, while Coast Protection Authorities have two functions; regulating the protection works of others (such as landowners), and promoting their own schemes part-funded by grant from the EA. 

The Act makes no specific provisions for amenity or conservation works and is confined solely to defence structures. There are however numerous other regulations and European Directives that ensure environmental considerations play a major part in the design and construction of any new scheme or maintenance works, and under the CPA as a Coast Protection Authority, SBC must consider the Water Framework Directive, and the Land Drainage Act 2010 at all times.

Our coastline

The Borough of Scarborough lies along a coastline of approximately 67km, (42 miles) Stretching from Staithes in the North to Speeton Cliffs in the South, of which 15km (9.5 miles) of this coastline is defended by either natural or man-made structures to protect it from the aggressive North Sea environment. Our coastline has many areas defined as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Heritage Coast which underlines the unique character of the region.   

Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) does not have a legal obligation to protect any of its coastline.However, under permissive powers, it routinely carries out works of both a capital funded (i.e. through applications for Grant Aid made to central Government, Defra and The Environment Agency, under the terms of the 1949 Coast Protection Act) and SBC revenue funded (i.e. from the Council's main annual budget). The SBC revenue budget allows for the ongoing maintenance of seawalls, promenades and coastal cliffs within the Borough’s responsibility. 

The Shoreline Management Plan 2

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) exists to promote good and prudent management of the coastline. The overall aim of the SMP is to set out a plan for a 100 year period indicating how our coastline should be managed, taking into account the wider implications on the neighbouring coastline and the environment.

It provides a large-scale assessment of the risks associated with coastal processes and presents a policy framework to reduce these risks to people and the developed, historic and natural environment in a sustainable manner into the 22nd century.

The Shoreline Management Plan 2 (SMP2) was completed in October 2007 and was developed in conjunction with neighbouring coastal authorities. The SMP2 covers the areas stretching from South Tyneside in the North to Flamborough Head in the South. Scarborough Borough Council undertook this project as lead authority.

North East SMP2 website.

Capital funded coast protection works

Scarborough Borough Council has been pro-active and successful in attracting large amounts of monies from Central Government  (Defra/The Environment Agency) to fund major coastal protection schemes in the Borough.

Such Schemes have been carried out as a result of Coastal Strategy studies and the SMP2 that has been undertaken by SBC. These studies have developed Action Plans from which capital projects have evolved. For each individual project it has been necessary to demonstrate to Defra and/or The Environment Agency that they are technically sound, economically viable, environmentally acceptable and sustainable. Recently completed and current schemes/strategies/studies include:

Borough-wide coastal monitoring

In order to better understand our coastline, monitoring equipment has been installed at various locations within the Whitby, Scarborough and Filey areas.

Some 86 piezometers (a piezometer is a small diameter water well used to measure the hydraulic head of groundwater in aquifers) and 38 Inclinometers (an inclinometer is used to monitor slopes and landslides to detect zones of movement and establish whether movement is constant, accelerating, or responding to remedial measures) are monitored regularly along with photographic surveys and crack monitoring. SBC also hold a list of reports on Ground Investigations undertaken on the coastal strip. The estimated capital funded cost of this monitoring and analysis programme is £200,000 over five years.

All local monitoring reports can be downloaded from the North East Coastal Observatory website  under the reports section.

Strategic coastal monitoring

SBC is continuing to spearhead coastal monitoring on behalf of authorities from the Scottish Borders down to Flamborough Head. The current monitoring project will run for five years from 2011 to 2016 and will involve a variety of surveys at many different locations along the coastline. Some of the surveys and activities undertaken will include:

  • Bathymetric Survey
  • Aerial Photography Survey/LIDAR/CASI
  • Cliff stability Survey
  • Sea Bed sediment Survey
  • Defence inspections
  • Beach profile/Topographic survey
  • Buoy deployment and data capture at Scarborough, Whitby and Newbiggin Bay (Northumberland) 

The estimated capital funded cost of this monitoring is £2.5 million. The data once collected will aid understanding and inform how our coastline should be managed now and in the future. 

Other websites







Complete projects


  • Runswick Bay, Completed in 2000 at a cost of £2.7 million
  • Robin Hoods Bay, Completed in 2001 at a cost of £3 million
  • Haggerlythe, Whitby, completed in 2001 at a cost of £1.6 million
  • Staithes Harbour & Cowbar, completed in 2005/6 at a cost of £3.5 million
  • East Pier, Castle Headland and the Holms, Scarborough, completed in 2005/6 at a cost of £51 million
  • Cayton Bay Cliff Investigations, completed April 2009, cost £276,500
  • Whitby Strategy further studies, completed April 2009, cost £319,000
  • Whitby Pier Power feasibility Study, completed 2010 at a cost of £37,000
  • Whitby East Pier Urgent Works completed July 2011 at a cost of £2.8 million 
  • NE (Scotland to Flamborough Head) Strategic Coastal Monitoring 2008-2011 completed at a cost of £1.4 million
  • Staithes Inner Harbour Wall Project Appraisal Report completed July 2012 at a cost of £20,000
  • Filey Flat Cliffs Ground Investigation Study completed August 2012 at a cost of £161,000
  • Robin Hood’s Bay Strategy Study - cost £223,000
  • Filey Coastal Outflanking Study  - cost £117,000
  • Filey Slope Study  - cost £200,000
  • Scarborough Spa Coastal Defences Option Appraisal
  • Eastfield Flood Alleviation Scheme  £75,000
  • North Bay Seawall Capital Maintenance,  Project Appraisal Report - cost £87,000
  • Staithes Inner Harbour Wall Works schedule - cost £140,000
  • Whitby Coastal Strategy 2 - cost £230,000 


Current projects


  • Pathfinder - Coastal Adaptation Pilot Project - current budget £1,022,500
  • NE (Scotland to Flamborough Head) Strategic Coastal Monitoring 2011-2016 (ongoing) current budget £2.5 million  
  • Whitby Church Street Flood Alleviation Scheme Project Appraisal Report (ongoing) estimated cost £20,000
  • Runswick Bay Coastal Strategy -  est cost £187,000
  • Whitby Harbour Piers works - est cost £4.8m
  • Bathing Water Partnership
  • Robin Hood's Bay PAR - cost £50,000
  • Cell 1 sediment transport study - cost £150,000
  • North Bay Improvement Works - cost £446,000
  • Filey Flood Alleviation Study (on going) estimate cost £396,000