Barriers at Pennington Point as EDDC reviews cliff erosion

A REPORT to review the current rate of cliff erosion and its future impact on Sidmouth, has been commissioned by East Devon District Council.

A REPORT to review the current rate of cliff erosion and its future impact on Sidmouth, has been commissioned by East Devon District Council.

The council is in the process of assessing the impact of the recent cliff falls at Pennington Point, the latest one taking place last Wednesday.

As a priority, to protect the public, EDDC, proposes to put in place a pedestrian barrier to dissuade people from walking along the beach, along with signs clearly explaining why the barrier is there.

Councillor Graham Liverton, portfolio holder environment, made the announcement at EDDC's Corporate Overview Committee meeting last night (Thursday, September 25).

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EDDC officers met with representatives from the Environment Agency and the council's consultants, Royal Haskoning, on September17 to inspect the cliffs and foreshore and to agree the scope of the initial report.

The consultants have been instructed to organise a topographic survey of the area, including the cliffs, river bed and foreshore.

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Using historic aerial photographs and the results of a recent Channel Coastal Observatory survey, they will assess the extent of erosion since 2001, along with its impact on the east of Sidmouth.

From the findings of the report, an action plan will be drawn up by the council and its consultants, in conjunction with Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Heritage Coast Officer.

Over the next two weeks, Royal Haskoning will explore and consider the potential impacts of either maintaining the status quo or undertaking any necessary emergency works to protect the town.

If emergency works are the chosen option, it is hoped to complete them as quickly as possible.

Councillor Liverton stressed it was important not to disrupt any stable processes already operating in the vicinity of recent cliff falls.

For example, an extension of the rock armour to increase flood protection could lead to a reduction of shingle levels under and upstream of the footbridge.

It could also lead to an increase in erosion of the cliffs, further lowering of the levels of beach material and it could impede the outflow of the River Sid at times of heavy rainfall - none of which would be desirable.

He went on: "It is important that every eventuality is considered where the protection of Sidmouth is concerned. A knee-jerk reaction might prove to be more detrimental to Sidmouth than a considered approach."

Councillor Liverton added that, once the council had an understanding of the potential risks to the town, it would be consulting with Devon County Council, Sidmouth Town Council and South West Water, all of whom have an interest in this area of the town.

*See Friday's Sidmouth Herald for full report.

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