‘We need defences now,’ says storm-hit seafront resident

06:00 08 July 2014

Enormous waves crashed along Sidmouth seafront after very windy conditions and high tides. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 4354-06-14AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on Photo Orders

Enormous waves crashed along Sidmouth seafront after very windy conditions and high tides. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 4354-06-14AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on Photo Orders

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AN ESPLANADE resident of 60 years says Sidmouth cannot afford to wait for new sea defences – after revealing repair work is still being done to his home four months after February’s storms.

John Govier points to repair work still being done at his seafront  home - four months after the 'great gales'John Govier points to repair work still being done at his seafront home - four months after the 'great gales'

Waves crashed over John Govier’s house and inflicted water damage on three rooms over three floors, writes Stephen Sumner.

Dehumidifiers have only just been removed and affected parts inside the property now need to be redecorated.

Sidmothian Mr Govier has spoken of his experience to highlight how unseen damage of the wild winter weather still exists, and to show a seafront protection scheme is urgently needed.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is leading a multi-agency initiative to produce a £75,000 beach management plan for Sidmouth.

The blueprint would pinpoint what defences are needed along the entire seafront, including at Pennington Point, but a recent delay means the document will not be finished until April 2015. An actual scheme would then have to be funded and implemented.

Mr Govier described the project as a ‘waste of money’ and said: “It’s far better being spent now on putting some rocks round the bottom of Pennington Point and trying to stop some of the erosion. The council employs these experts and thinks the problem is going to go away.”

He attended all of the meetings with marine consultants in the early 1990s that had led to the current off-shore defences being completed, but said tests had showed a semi-submerged breakwater right across the front of the town would have been the best option.

“If anything is going to work, that would work,” Mr Govier said. “I don’t consider myself to be an expert. But having lived here all my life, and lived on the seafront for the past 60 years, I’ve got a pretty good idea what I’m talking about.”

He added that the two ‘great gales’ in February were the worst he had ever seen.

“When you look back, you can hardly imagine it happened,” said Mr Govier. “Maybe it will happen again, maybe it will not happen for another 10, 20, 30, 40 years.”

He said the current calm summer weather should not see the issue forgotten about as the impact of the winter storms is still being felt my many homeowners.

An EDDC spokeswoman said the authority, along with its partners the Environment Agency, Sidmouth Town Council and Cliff Road residents, ‘are doing all they can to ensure that the right action is taken at the right time’.

She added: “Careful consideration needs to be given to the possible impact of any protection works to ensure that protecting one area does not put others at greater risk. This, coupled with obtaining the necessary funding for any works, means that we have to be patient.”

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