“No effort” to protect Sidmouth from flood threat claim

As �20 million sea defence spend approved for Lyme Regis, EDDC say Sidmouth erosion no comparison

AS West Dorset District Council approves a �20 million spend on protecting Lyme Regis from the sea, a local campaigner claims East Devon District Council appears to be making no effort to protect Sidmouth from flooding.

Tony Miller, chairman of SAFE – Sidmouth Against Flood Emergency – said: “Their observations are quite right, in that the problems are different between the size of the issues and monies concerned would be a fraction of �20 million, but what annoys people is why don’t they appear to be making an effort to say what could be done and how much money they could get to do this.”

Mr Miller, a Cliff Road resident, who has been involved in talks between EDDC and asset holders over the threat to Sidmouth from flooding with the collapse of most of Pennington Point, was commenting on a statement made by the council over WDDC’s protection plans.

It says: “Lyme Regis ticks many of the boxes that justify applying for funding – and as yet that is all the local authority there is doing.

“There is still no guarantee the Government will release the funds required, as West Dorset still has to show that the cost/benefit ratio and outcome measures meet very exacting standards.”

Lyme has 144 homes and 900 metres of road directly at risk from coastal erosion within 50 years, with 342 further homes less directly affected.

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WDDC believes it is worth spending over �1million in studies to make the case for a coastal protection scheme.

EDDC said: “This case not only has to stack up financially, but has to secure the support of the Environment Agency and Natural England…that have a say in what does or does not happen.

“EDDC has been clear all along that it is working with these agencies and others, including asset owners, and is carefully monitoring the situation at Sidmouth to ensure there is early warning of any flood risk to Eastern Town, at which time emergency works might be justified.

“Convincing the Government that Sidmouth is in dire need of funding for a coastal protection scheme such as that being pursued at Lyme Regis is out of the question in current circumstances.”

Work in Lyme could start as soon as spring 2012. Engineers recommend building 390 metres of new seawall as part of its protection scheme.

Mr Miller said: “EDDC is still sticking to the view of not doing anything (in Sidmouth) until there is an emergency.”

“We have said for years our main concern is for the town as well as our properties. If we lose these cliffs and get South Easterlies in the winter, the whole of the middle of the town will be at risk, in particular the Port Royal area.”

He described EDDC’s response as “poor”, adding: “I don’t believe EDDC is caring for the electorate.”

*Have your say at www.sidmouthherald.co.uk.