Dredged river gravel to protect Pennington Point

HUNDREDS of tonnes of gravel were brought to Sidmouth beach on Thursday in a bid to protect its crumbling eastern coastline – but won’t be put in place at Pennington Point for weeks.

Material dredged from the River Sid was hauled to a seafront slipway opposite the fisherman’s area.

The move follows a sixth landslide in the space of a week – described as one of the biggest in recent times.

A site inspection by representatives from the district and county councils and Environment Agency (EA) took place on Tuesday.

The EA is currently removing river gravel from the Sid following the recent floods - around 500 tonnes.

However, the district council says it cannot be transferred from the seafront across to Pennington Point until the new year, as a specialist piece of machinery needed to do the job isn’t available until January.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, who had called for the move, said yesterday he was prepared to make �5,000 available from his county Investing in Devon fund towards any eventual rock armouring scheme along the stretch.

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“The river gravel will also do some good in this location,” said Cllr Hughes.

He likened the decimated red sandstone to a ‘Martian landscape’.

Councillor Phil Twiss, the district council’s deputy cabinet member for environment, said the latest fall was another example of material falling down from the cliff-top - caused by erosion from above and not by wave action from below.

“Given the heavy falls of rain in recent months, this event was entirely predictable and there is little that can be done to prevent this and other future falls when there is further penetration of water from above,” he said.

EDDC is heading up a task force looking into longer-term measures to protect the foot of the cliffs.

The Herald understands the inspection this week found wave undercutting occurring in certain areas - which is adding to the problem of rain induced ‘slumping’ from the top of the cliffs.

Cllr Hughes said last week that it’s ‘only a matter of time’ before the last protective piece of Pennington Point is lost – which could leave the eastern town in danger of tidal flooding.