Homeowner call for beach management plan for Sidmouth

Ref shs Before and after of shed

Ref shs Before and after of shed - Credit: Archant

Paul Griew saw his summerhouse disappear down Sidmouth’s crumbling cliffs this week.

Paul Griew where his garden shed once stood.

Paul Griew where his garden shed once stood. - Credit: Archant

A concerned homeowner, whose summerhouse disappeared down Sidmouth’s crumbling cliffs, has said the coastal erosion demonstrated the town’s need to have a beach management plan [BMP].

Paul Griew has attracted national attention after his £4,000 shed fell down the cliff on Tuesday afternoon.

The Cliff Road resident estimated erosion at a metre a year for the past decade and said, if it continued, he could lose his house in 30 years’ time.

He said: “My gardener was standing on that bit that went, about half an hour earlier. He had to sit down when I told him.”

Paul Griew's shed came down the cliff this afternoon. Credit: ex10sidvalley - Twitter

Paul Griew's shed came down the cliff this afternoon. Credit: ex10sidvalley - Twitter - Credit: Archant

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Mr Griew, who sits on the steering group for the BMP, said he was concerned for the community as he believed the preferred BMP choice was the ‘third-best’ option.

The preferred option is to install one or two new rock groynes at east beach, combined with periodic beach recharge. The scheme will be subject to permission from statutory partners.

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Mr Griew said: “When I bought the house, the rate of erosion then was between 10 and 20 centimetres per year, so [would reach the house in] about 300 years. Today it’s about 30 years; it’s going ten times faster.

“It is man-made, not natural, and therefore the current, very high rate of erosion will not diminish until something is done either to reverse the previous works or to protect the base of the cliffs.”

The Sidmouth resident applied to install rock armour back in 2010.

He said: “It [the proposed choice] is the third-best option; rock armour which is the cheapest and best, is vetoed by Natural England. The second is the islands out in the bay, which is the most expensive at about £19million, and the third is the preferred option and costs £10 to £11million.

“Hopefully, the beach management plan scheme will do something to protect the base of the cliffs, but it will not be implemented for probably at least five years, by which time Sidmouth will be open to flooding, as Pennington Point will have disappeared, and the River Sid will become part of the sea.”

A council spokeswoman said: “If we get the necessary approvals and funding from the Environment Agency, we anticipate starting work as early as 2019.”

The council has also issued a safety warning to discourage beachgoers from using the steps by Alma Bridge, due to the risk of rock falls or being cut off by the tide.

She added: “Educating people over the dangers that cliffs present is a priority for us and we will keep repeating our warning messages and advice, while continuing to monitor and manage the cliffs in our care.”

The council has begun a post-storm survey and will continue to monitor the cliffs. It is also watching for debris that washes up from the beach.

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