Advice on locations where coastal adaptation measures may affect access

Investigating which footpaths in Wales may be affected if coastal defences are no longer maintained

To understand the scale of the future management requirements of Public Rights of Way on the Wales Coast Path (WCP), NRW wanted to understand where Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) policies might impact the WCP. This is particularly important if a coastal structure which supports or protects the footpath faces a management change.

ABPmer was commissioned to investigate which footpaths in Wales may be affected if coastal defences are no longer maintained due to the implementation of No Active Intervention or Managed Realignment policies; and the total length of footpaths, per Local Authority area and per SMP epoch.

ABPmer developed a GIS processing methodology using available spatial data on SMP policy units, footpaths and coastal defences maintained by NRW and Local Authorities. We also digitised missing coastal defences that were not included in the available dataset.

The outputs of the study included:

  • A database of all affected footpaths, listed by unique path ID, as well as the associated coastal defence ID and each intersecting SMP policy unit; the Local Authority in which the section of path is located and the length (in metres) of affected footpath;
  • GIS shapefiles of potentially affected footpaths identified in this study and the relevant coastal defences used in the study.

The outputs were designed to be interrogated by SMP Policy Unit, SMP epoch and Local Authority area, and indicated the total length of affected Public Rights of Way and WCP for each of these categories.