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Huge Sidmouth cliff fall sparks emergency action plea

PUBLISHED: 11:27 03 December 2012

Cliff fall. shs cliff1

Cliff fall. shs cliff1

Archant

THIS is the dramatic moment that another massive chunk of Sidmouth’s soaked coastline thunders to the beach below – and prompts calls for emergency action to be taken.

Fears have been expressed that several substantial cliff falls in the space of a few stormy days have put the eastern town at higher risk from the sea.

Devon’s lead councillor for flooding says it is ‘only a matter of time’ before the last protective piece of Pennington Point is lost.

A shingle bank that had started to build up at the toe of the Triassic cliff was also swept away during unrelenting rain at the weekend - exposing a deep void.

Woolbrook Meadows resident John Austin, 70, spotted a crack along the stretch when out for a normal walk last Friday.

Camera in hand, the shocked pensioner snapped away as a huge amount of soil came plummeting down.

John, who often stops at the spot to take photos to document the changing face of the cliffs, said: “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like that.”

Surface run-off from the fields above was attributed as a major contributing factor to the landslip.

And Councillor Stuart Hughes, the county’s lead member for flooding, said Pennington Point is also ‘exposed to attack’ from high tide twice a day.

“I am of the opinion that unless some form of emergency rock revetment work is carried out and put in place it will be only a matter of a short period of time before we lose the last section of cliff that is protecting both eastern town and Alma Bridge from south easterlies and, with it, the threat of tidal flooding.

“It certainly will not wait for the proposed Beach Management Plan to be drawn up and I believe it will qualify for Defra emergency funding.”

Cllr Hughes has also requested the county council seeks funding for a 3D laser scan survey of Pennington Point to be carried out.

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