Ominous warning from councillor after latest cliffs collapse

PUBLISHED: 11:52 22 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:24 17 June 2010

A SECOND fall in four days at Salcombe Cliffs has again highlight fears for the safety of Sidmouth s eastern town. On Saturday, two metres of one Salcombe Hill garden, including a fir tree and fencing, collapsed on to the beach.

A SECOND fall in four days at Salcombe Cliffs has again highlight fears for the safety of Sidmouth's eastern town.

On Saturday, two metres of one Salcombe Hill garden, including a fir tree and fencing, collapsed on to the beach.

"It is getting more serious than ever," said Councillor Stuart Hughes, who has been fighting for years to protect the eroding cliffs.

Mr Hughes said he was not scaremongering, but stated: "Pennington Point will go next and if it does it will expose the whole of eastern town.

"Something has got to be done. It is not going to wait much longer.

"There is no shingle there at the moment. It is like a Martian landscape: red cliffs and red under the cliffs.

"Sooner or later something has to be done. Emergency powers will come into play and someone will be forced to do something."

He called for special scientific interest demarcation to be moved away from the river mouth to allow revetment work.

EDDC does not own the cliffs or much beach, but submitted a £1 million protection scheme to Government in 2004 - ditched when English Nature objected.

To date it has spent £100,000 on three geological reports and submissions to Government.

A spokesman for Salcombe Hill Residents' Association said the problem was threefold: "Firstly the wooden groynes from the beach were taken away because they needed repairing and the beach disappeared to Dorset.

"The council brought in rock groynes, which have saved the town but escalated erosion due to tidal current changes.

"Thirdly the loss of a ground drainage pipe from Alma Field, which ran off water over the cliff, was removed.

"Now when it rains it looks like Niagara Falls."

Suggestions were made to put in mole drains - pipes with holes - to link up with main drainage in Cliff Road.

An EDDC spokesman said the council had every sympathy with clifftop residents and those who feared cliff erosion could cause a flooding risk.

The council was satisfied there was no short term risk of flooding and said any, if identified, longer-term risk would be tackled in partnership with the Environment Agency.

It awaits the national coastal erosion mapping study and shoreline management plan, the latter comm-issioned by DEFRA and EA, before deciding how to manage East Devon's coastline.

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