£9m to protect Sidmouth beach? 'It's worth a shot'
PUBLISHED: 09:30 07 October 2016 | UPDATED: 12:00 07 October 2016
'Post-apocalyptic' views of the seafront have seen a Sidmothian launch an unlikely fundraising bid - to net £9million in three weeks.
Richard Bissett said achieving the ‘astronomical’ amount for a defence scheme – the highest crowdfunding website JustGiving would allow – was ‘worth a shot’.
He wants the cash to go towards the £11million needed in partnership funding to install series of offshore breakwaters intended to slow erosion and maintain a healthy beach.
CCTV installation company managing director Richard, who was born in Sidmouth and hopes to move back permanently from Northamptonshire next year, told the Herald: “The options available for shoring up the seafront have been under discussion for years and we are no further forward, yet cliff falls are happening with an alarming regularity.
“Standing at Port Royal and looking east now looks positively post-apocalyptic, with the sea smashing into the cliffs.
“The latest report suggests that if all parties can agree and if the necessary funding can be found, that nothing will happen for four to six years. This may be too little, too late.
“We need to act now to guarantee that the picturesque Sidmouth seafront stays picturesque.
“I thought that maybe this can be speeded up if enough people are aware and care.
“If this [fundraiser] went viral, the sky’s the limit.”
He said Keith Owen had left his £2.3million fortune to the town and ‘you never know’ who else might be willing to put their hand in their pocket.
The breakwater scheme is one of two options being considered as part of the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan (BMP).
The other - requiring £2.3million - would see one or two rock groynes built on East Beach.
A spokeswoman for BMP leader East Devon District Council thanked ‘public-spirited’ Richard and said she hopes his gesture will resonate with others to assist the town’s funding challenge.
She added: “Ultimately, if the council wishes to obtain funding from central government, we must first prove to the Environment Agency that any partnership funding contributions are secure. Realistically, the earliest date that construction could begin would be 2019/2020.
“However, experience has shown that the process of securing partnership funding could add another five to six years on top – and even then it may not be successful.
“Despite this, we are encouraged by the level of support that the project has received and we look forward to working in partnership with the people of Sidmouth to achieve the right outcome for the town.”
To support Richard’s campaign, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Sidmouthbeachprotectionplan