Latest Sidmouth cliff fall sees thousands of tons of soil crash onto beach

PUBLISHED: 13:31 06 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:45 08 March 2018

Sidmouth's latest cliff fall. Ref shs 10 18TI 8795. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth's latest cliff fall. Ref shs 10 18TI 8795. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

Thousands of tons of soil crashed onto Sidmouth’s East Beach in a ‘colossal’ cliff fall, prompting further warnings.

Sidmouth's latest cliff fall. Ref shs 10 18TI 8792. Picture: Terry IfeSidmouth's latest cliff fall. Ref shs 10 18TI 8792. Picture: Terry Ife

Guy Russell, Sidmouth Lifeboat’s senior coxswain, witnessed two incidents that took place at around 11am on Monday.

He said: “The first one happened at about 10.50am – a little bit came down which made me stop to look; and then as I was watching, a colossal amount fell onto the beach.

“With the recent weather and extremely high tide, coupled with the strong easterly sea conditions – it made perfect conditions for a cliff fall.

“I would like to highlight the fact that it is really dangerous down there and it is only going to get worse.”

Sidmouth's latest cliff fall. Ref shs 10 18TI 8790. Picture: Terry IfeSidmouth's latest cliff fall. Ref shs 10 18TI 8790. Picture: Terry Ife

The Herald previously raised concerns with the National Trust (NT) over the number of people risking their lives by ignoring the warning signs on East Beach.

And, in August last year, the NT said it would ‘urgently establish’ a ‘safety group’, in conjunction with East Devon District Council and the Coastguard.

Guy urged people to take noticed of the warning signs: “We have people come in nearly every day to raise concerns about people walking and sitting at the bottom of the cliffs.

“It is only a matter of time before someone gets killed and it will be my crew that has to dig them out.”

An East Devon District Council (EDDC) spokeswoman said the only effective way to close a beach was through a police presence, as other agencies were unable to enforce such a closure.

She said the decision to close the beach would need to be taken by the landowner, and the council only maintained the steps by Alma Bridge to stop people becoming stranded by the tide.

“The signs makes it very clear that there is a danger of cliff falls and that people should not access the beach from this point. The Alma steps access is also restricted by a chest height bar to make access more difficult.”

A NT spokeswoman said: “We are very concerned that people continue to use East Beach and ignore safety signs.”

She said the beach had 10 different owners and while they did not own the land where people accessed the beach, they were all united in their approach that it should not used.

She said the current measures, safety signs and closure notices were reviewed in conjunction with the police, coastguard and EDDC, and an additional warning sign had been erected on the harbour wall.

Sidmouth Lifeboat Station is looking for volunteers if you are interested, call 07580 161367.

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