MP Hugo discusses Sidmouth and Tipton issues with EA boss

Sir Hugo Swire MP met Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan and Councillor Stuart Hughe

Sir Hugo Swire MP met Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan and Councillor Stuart Hughes on Sidmouth seafront - Credit: Archant

The boss of the Environment Agency met East Devon’s MP to discuss some of the pressing issues facing his constituency.

Sir Hugo Swire invited Sir James Bevan down to update him on Sidmouth’s beach management plan (BMP) and the proposed relocation of the flood prone Tipton St John Primary School.

Both issues are likely to require millions of pounds in investment to be realised.

Sir Hugo said: “The support of the Environment Agency will be essential as East Devon District Council (EDDC) proceeds with the vitally important BMP for Sidmouth.

“It was useful to discuss some of the funding challenges surrounding this project with Sir James, Councillor Stuart Hughes and officers from EDDC.”

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Two potential schemes are in the running to protect Sidmouth seafront from flooding and slow further erosion.

Option 4B, to build a series of offshore breakwaters, is the technically preferred choice but would cost an estimated £11million.

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EDDC says option 1, to build one or two more groynes on east beach and manage the shingle, has a more realistic chance of attaining the necessary partnership funding, which amounts to £2.3million.

A sub-group of BMP members has been formed to look at funding opportunities for both options.

Executive headteacher Colin Butler said in July that Tipton St John Primary School will either have to stay where it is and face likely closure or move out of the village. He cited an Environment Agency report saying there is a significant threat to life.

The school’s leaders are looking to move out of the village to the edge of Ottery St Mary, near The King’s School.

Following his meeting with Sir James last Friday, Sir Hugo said: “I am determined to do all that I can to secure the necessary funding to enable Tipton St John Primary School to move to a new, safer site.

“I took representatives from the school, Devon County Council and the Diocese of Exeter to discuss this matter with the Secretary of State for Education only last week but I also wanted to show Sir James the problems that the school is facing.

“I am pleased that Sir James is very supportive of the school and will help us to make the case to the Government.”

The pair also discussed the redevelopment of Exmouth seafront and Sir Hugo said the Environment Agency chief executive was ‘very much impressed’ with the town’s sea defences.

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