More evidence needed for beach protection plan

Sidmouth beach. Ref shs 0285-04-15SH. Photo Simon Horn

Sidmouth beach. Ref shs 0285-04-15SH. Photo Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Civic leaders are urging people to share their memories of Sidmouth’s coast to ensure a project to protect the shoreline is not hit by further delays.

After a meeting of the beach management plan steering group last week, East Devon District Council (EDDC) appealed for the town to act as its ‘eyes and ears’ and send in evidence of how the coast has changed.

Sidmouth councillors expressed their frustration over the slow progress of the scheme when they discussed the matter on Monday - but echoed the request for residents to do what they could to help.

Updating colleagues on the EDDC-run project, Councillor Jeff Turner said a ‘disparity of evidence’ was partly responsible for the latest hold-up.

He added: “There seems to be a suggestion from the contractors that there has been no real movement of beach material from the eastern beach and that the beach was always quite low lying.

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“Whereas there are people around the town who say that their anecdotal evidence is that there was always a high beach there - in fact up to the level of the old Victorian railway tunnels.”

Cllr Turner said that a report shortlisting beach management options was expected by the end of the year, but added it would be ‘several years yet’ before any work actually took place. Town clerk Christopher Holland said that the involvement of the Environment Agency and Natural England would undoubtedly slow the process down.

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But he added that the town would have to ‘jump through the hoops’ if it hoped to ultimately secure government cash to fund a scheme.

He said: “There is plenty of evidence out there, it just needs gathering.

“If we don’t collect enough evidence, then we give another excuse for this to be delayed yet again - so let’s give the government agencies what they want.

“If you have got anything, please pass it on to EDDC.”

The council is looking for photographs, letters, newspaper articles and old documents, as well as personal accounts of features such as The Esplanade, Alma Bridge, the old railway tunnel and records of garden erosion.

These can be emailed to or posted to Annette Ladbrook at EDDC’s Knowle HQ before Tuesday, March 31.

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