Sidmouth cliff erosion

SIR - The letter submitted recently by Professor J Tucker, regarding the erosion taking place on our eastern cliffs and the residents’ planning application for rock revetment, contains some misinformation and inaccuracies.

In 1995, EDDC implemented the Sidmouth sea front protection scheme, replacing the old wooden groynes with rock groynes and islands. This has been reasonably successful in preventing the loss of shingle immediately in front of the esplanade, but, as forecast by scientific experts and local people, including the fishermen, the action has proved disastrous for the cliff erosion rates to the east because the beach there has lost its shingle.

Those buying houses in the past atop the eastern cliffs could reasonably have expected security running into more than one hundred years, but since the island installation this has been cut to a few decades, at most.

Of course, buyers were aware of cliff erosion, but not at the rates which now pertain and house insurance against cliff erosion is not available from any company offering cover.

The planning application submitted to EDDC does not specify further rock groynes or islands, but proposes a 200m long revetment or buttress to act, as the shingle did in the past, by preventing twice daily attack from the tides.

The effect to the east of this action is predicted by the experts as negligible, so Branscombe inhabitants need not fear.

When constructed, this revetment will afford protection for Alma Bridge against certain destruction, help prevent the probable eastern town flooding threat with associated infrastructure and economic losses and allow the eastern beach to once again become a tourist attraction, plus remove the danger of falling rocks for bathers on that beach.

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The proposed planning action is not about saving the 12 houses on the cliff top, it has been conceived to encompass much wider implications as detailed above and contained in the application submitted to EDDC.

Those who read this and are concerned for the future of Sidmouth, in light of rising sea levels and our inadequate sea defences, are invited to write to EDDC, their appropriate town and district councillor and also our MP - Hugo Swire - who himself supports the initiative.

Tony Miller

Uplands, Cliff Road, Sidmouth