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Residents have their say on plan to protect the seafront and beach’s crumbling cliffs

PUBLISHED: 12:30 26 April 2018

More than 150 people attended an exhibition showcasing the preferred option for protecting Sidmouth and its eroding cliffs.

East Devon District Council hosted the event at Kennaway House to show residents the latest works being done on Sidmouth Beach Management Scheme.

The preferred option includes the installation of an addition 120 metre long groyne on East Beach - the current rock groyne in Sidmouth only reaches around 75 metres. The plan is to then raise the splash wall, that separates the road and the promenade, from around 50cm to a metre.

The exhibit showcased ideas taken from other coastal towns which had tried to be more creative with their sea defences. The ideas included built in seating, plants and artworks.

The £9million project would also include the importation of shingle onto both the town’s beaches.

After seeing the showcase resident John Hamilton, of the Cotlands, said: “As long as the seawall isn’t any higher then a metre and not like Seaton’s.”

John Mullins, 90, who lives on the seafront added: “I have just had a look at that ridiculous splash wall. You won’t be able to see the sea over it. They have already ruined Seaton’s front and now they are talking about doing it to Sidmouth.”

Jo McInerney, 80, of Cliff Road, said: “We would just like it done. I have lived at the top of the cliff for 20 years. There have been lots of plans and ideas over the years and it has come to nothing.”

Dave and Peggy Anderson, of Sid Road, said: “We think raising the wall would be a good idea. I think the built-in seating would be a really good idea.”

The council’s project team and consultants Royal HaskoningDHV spent the afternoon discussing the scheme’s outline design to prevent coastal flooding and erosion. Visitors were shown the flood risk to more than 100 residential properties in low lying areas behind the seafront from waves overtopping the promenade. That flood risk will be increased in the future as the cliffs to the east of the town recede and the eastern side of Sidmouth becomes exposed to coastal conditions.

Councillor Tom Wright, who is responsible for environment and chair of the scheme’s steering group, said: “We had a really positive reaction to the exhibition material and the hard work which has gone into it, and I was pleased to see so many people coming to learn first-hand about our plans to protect the lovely town centre from the threat of flooding.”

Alice Johnson, coastal engineer for Royal HaskoningDHV, added: “It was great to have the opportunity to share this update on the Sidmouth and East Beach BMP with the community. We found the event extremely useful and thank all those who attended for their insightful questions and contributions which we will seek to build in to our continuing work.”

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