A new and improved multi-million Sidmouth Beach Management Plan (BMP) could eliminate the need for a controversial raised splash wall on the seafront. The news comes following a meeting of the Sidmouth Beach Management Advisory Group, on Monday 25 October, which approved a new plan costing up to £14million - providing the vital flood defences the town needs, better protecting the Esplanade and the town’s crumbling cliffs above East Beach.
A new and improved multi-million Sidmouth Beach Management Plan (BMP) could eliminate the need for a controversial raised splash wall on the seafront.
The news comes following a meeting of the Sidmouth Beach Management Advisory Group, on Monday 25 October, which approved a new plan costing up to £14million - providing the vital flood defences the town needs, better protecting the Esplanade and the town’s crumbling cliffs above East Beach.
An increase in DEFRA funding has allowed the group to spend the past six months to consider options previously dismissed because of a lack of funding.
The new monies has meant the group could look at new options that eliminate the need for a one-metre splash wall to replace the current dwarf wall along the Esplanade, which some feared would be an eyesore.
In the last six months, consultants Royal Haskoning DVH has looked at various options to see what is now feasible with the new funding.
This has included an extra set of islands similar to the two already near the seafront, which were part of a ‘preferred option’ considered by residents in public consultations.
The current islands have provided good protection from westerly storms and have also created a large pebble beach at Clifton, which protects the west of the town. As a bonus a sandy beach has also appeared.
The new plan now includes two extra rock islands which will be built off town beach, to the east of the current ones, reducing the wave action during storms and helping to protect the beaches.
On East Beach the current proposal for a large rock groyne remains the best option for the moment.
Prior to EDDC taking on this challenging project Devon County Council and a group of residents on Cliff Road whose gardens back onto the eroding East Cliffs, both proposed a rock revetment scheme. However, following Natural England’s concerns about the effects of a revetment on the World Heritage Site these earlier schemes were abandoned.
The proposed outline of the scheme will now be made into an official document, the advisory group will then be asked for their views before the plans are sent to the Environment Agency who will look to see if the plans are sound. If so the funding will be released to allow for the ‘detailed design stage’ to begin – this is where a more detailed study and modelling is carried out. It is expected that some changes will be made to the current proposal at that stage. If the changes are substantial, the scheme may have to go through a ‘technical review’ before the finalised designs are put forward for planning permission. At this stage, further consultations with the public and official bodies will be carried out.
EDDC Councillor Geoff Jung, chair of the Sidmouth Beach Management Committee, said:
I am really pleased that the committee today supported the recommendation to move onto the next stage for this important and critical project. This scheme has been very challenging for many years and agreeing to move on to the next stage is brilliant news.
Climate change, due to global warning was hardly a consideration when the earlier schemes were being considered. However, we now understand that the effects of the sea and weather will have serious detrimental consequences on the town of Sidmouth, but this plan is designed to protect properties and residents of Sidmouth, to retain its character and unique charm for the next 100 years.
I would like to personally thank the officers, consultants, and committee members for their diligence and hours of work to finally move on to the next stage.