Coastal ferry scheme for Sidmouth on horizon

HOPES of a waterborne transport scheme along the Jurassic Coast have been kept afloat by a �2.8million bid for Big Lottery cash.

The project – which could feature a pioneering mobile jetty – would be “marvellous” for Sidmouth, say interested parties.

The Jurassic Coast Partnership has applied to the Coastal Communities Fund for the massive sum of money to develop marine links at both the western and eastern ends of the 95-mile long World Heritage Site.

In the west, a newly set up working group hopes to create a coastal hopper service operating between Exmouth and West Bay - servicing Sidmouth, Seaton and Lyme Regis.

Simon Pollentine, who is chairman of tourism on Sidmouth Town Council, attended the group’s first set of talks last month.

He said: “It could be absolutely fantastic for tourism.

“We want it to be the X53 at sea,” he added, referring to a popular bus which runs along the Jurassic Coast.

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Project leaders say waterborne passenger transport could help relieve congestion, boost local economies, create jobs and encourage new and repeat visits by tourists.

John Wokersien, chairman of the western group – which is being funded by the county council - said: “Locals will well remember the steamers that used to ply the coast within living memory. With new ways of thinking and modern innovation, it is surely the right time to bring back scheduled marine transport to our coast.”

Sally King, Jurassic Coast visitor manager, added: “We’re really excited that people are working together along the coast with the aim of turning the years of talk into a potential reality.

“Even if we are unsuccessful, I believe the determination of the towns along the coast will see this project happen in the future.”

Steven Kendall-Torry, chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, said: “We would back it to the hilt. It sounds like a marvellous idea.”

A bid last year by the Devon Town Forum for three-quarters-of-a-million in European Union cash was unsuccessful.