‘No’ to interim defences on Sidmouth seafront

A view west along Sidmouth shoreline. Ref shs 18-16SH 0065. Picture: Simon Horn.

A view west along Sidmouth shoreline. Ref shs 18-16SH 0065. Picture: Simon Horn. - Credit: Archant

No defences will be put in place on Sidmouth seafront for three years because the six-figure cost of interim works would hit longer-term funding.

That is the conclusion of a joint statement released by Devon County Council (DCC), Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Jurassic Coast Team and East Devon District Council (EDDC).

The latter is drafting a beach management plan (BMP) to protect £85million of property and the town’s infrastructure, which is due to be completed this autumn – but its implementation will not start until 2019 at the earliest.

The five agencies released their statement in response to calls for interim works to protect Pennington Point and the eastern town.

In it, they rule out constructing a short length of rock armour, a rock groyne or a timber groyne due to the costs involved, plus issues with access and planning consent.

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The schemes would cost between £203,000 and £563,000, excluding VAT, detailed design, permissions, and their eventual removal – and they say could result in ‘terminal’ erosion elsewhere.

There is no emergency cash available, so installing interim defences would reduce the money EDDC and ‘other potential contributors’ have for the BMP.

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The plan’s implementation is expected to cost between £11million and £20million, depending on which of the five options is chosen. EDDC will need to find contributions of £6million to £15million over the lifetime of the scheme

Instead, the agencies agreed that the most appropriate course of action is to keep Alma Bridge in place as long as it is safe, before dismantling it – potentially within 12 months. The South West Coast Path would then be diverted inland to Mill Street until a replacement bridge can be provided. DCC has already set funding aside for this project.

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