Eroding coastline near Strathy Point, Caithness. ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

Planning and development: coastal change

Well-informed planning decisions can minimise risks to nature, business and commnunities along our coasts

The Scottish coast is an important place for our environment, culture and economy. Over a quarter of the terrestrial areas protected for natural or landscape interests in Scotland have coastal connections. £13bn worth of built assets are protected behind natural defences such as sand dunes and salt marshes. At £5bn, far less, but still a significant amount of assets are found behind man-made defences. Tourism, recreation and the marine sector rely on the qualities and services that the coast and marine environment provide to the economy. Through recreation, the coast also contributes to people's health and wellbeing. 

But the coast is at risk from the increasing effects of climate change, through more frequent and more severe storm activity, as well as sea level rise. This is causing increased erosion and flooding, which will only get worse in the future. 

Guidance

By making use of our guidance on Looking Ahead: Planning for Coastal Change and the outputs of the Dynamic Coast project, informed long term decisions can be made to help achieve a resilient, adaptable coast where natural assets are valued and where businesses, communities, nature and people thrive. 

Watch our webinar on planning for coastal change.