Sidmouth Beach Management Plan: ‘Russian roulette’ if £1.5million is not secured

This photograph of Pennington Point and East Cliff was taken for the BMP by a drone at lower altitud

This photograph of Pennington Point and East Cliff was taken for the BMP by a drone at lower altitude. If you look carefully you can see circular waves with their centre at the end of the river training wall. This is wave diffraction and it can cause erosion. - Credit: Archant

A call for unity and action has been made to ensure a cash-threatened £9million flood defence scheme receives urgently needed funds.

This week, the town's five district councillors have warned the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan is in the 'last chance saloon' if it cannot make up a £1.5million shortfall.

District councillors say they want to work with the community on ideas to bridge the shortfall.

If the money cannot be found before August 2020 the town will not get the flood defences it wants.

The preferred option would involve beach replenishment, periodic beach recycling, a new rock groyne on East Beach, raising the height of the splash wall, and repairs to the River Sid training wall.

Councillor Stuart Hughes said: "We're in the last chance saloon, time is of an essence and all residents can get involved in helping design the raised splashwall element of the scheme which is needed to protect the highway asset and prevent the town and businesses from tidal flooding.

"If we don't progress with the scheme that was agreed by the steering group we will end up with an inadequate little scheme at the Port Royal end of the Esplanade in raising the wall to protect from south easterlies only and this would leave the rest of the town playing a game of Russian roulette every time there were a severe storm."

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The town can only access £5.7million from the government's flood defence grant and needs to raise £3.2million locally.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has committed £500,000 while Devon County Council has pledged £500,000 and Sidmouth Town Council £100,000.

The town's remaining district councillors Cathy Gardner, Denise Bickley, John Loudoun, Marianne Rixson and Dawn Manley said due to climate change, the works need to start within the next couple of years.

In a joint statement said: "The time for debate about how and what should be done is past. It is time to deliver the works required to keep the town safe.

"As your district councillors we want to work with the town council, local business and all other interested parties in now finding ways of bridging this anticipated shortfall in funding.

"We are totally committed to keeping the town safe. We need your support in doing so."

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Race against time to secure £1.5million - or Sidmouth won't get coastline protection it wants