Can we afford not to take action?

sir - So we awake on Friday morning, July 16, to find the sea around Sidmouth contaminated with sewage as a direct result of the inclement weather the night before.

I wonder if it was a surprise to our local councillors. It certainly was not to those of us who campaign for improved sea defences. If nothing is done to bolster the eastern cliffs against further rapid erosion, we can expect this and other more serious situations to occur in future.

A number of us had been invited to meet with a Pathfinder Group on Tuesday, July 20 to discuss how we, as a town, can “adapt” to the changing conditions brought about by climate change. What this terminology really means, of course, is that we have to be convinced by those who govern us to “accept” our town will, in the near future, fall into the sea.

What the Pathfinder Group, EDDC and other stakeholders need to be talking about and planning for is another “A” word. Not once do we hear the word ACTION seriously used to describe what needs to be done about our plight as a town. Many of our councillors have, in the past, seemingly spoken with great passion about the need for urgent action, yet, when confronted by so-called experts who say there is no emergency situation now or likely in future, back down like toothless pussycats.

My hope and prayer is that this latest event will point out to them all the need for “urgent action” as a reality and not as a sound bite used in a talking shop.

The councillors at EDDC should be thoroughly ashamed by this latest event, which is as a direct result of their inaction. Seven years ago they adopted the plan IVb proposed by their own consultants, yet shrank back from implementation.

What we saw last Thursday was a summer wind storm of moderate intensity, what on earth will happen in a full blown, south-easterly during the winter season, I dread to think. The results of such an event would cripple the town for weeks, cause widespread damage to property and businesses alike. Every inhabitant would have the right to lay the blame on a council which, it appears, is unable to make the most obvious of decisions.

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Build sea defences to protect the cliffs and do it soon.

Yes, money is tight and cuts have to be made and some say we can’t afford to build defences. Perhaps they need to ask the question “can we afford NOT to build defences?”

Tony Miller

Uplands, Cliff Road

Chairman - SAFE