Photos of Sidmouth cliffs reveal ‘alarming’ rate of erosion

Charles Lodge took these photos from his apartment. He said using the lamp posts as markers shows ho

Charles Lodge took these photos from his apartment. He said using the lamp posts as markers shows how the cliffs have eroded. - Credit: Archant

A business owner with a viewpoint over Sidmouth’s crumbling cliffs is calling for an end to talking and the start of some preventative action.

Charles Lodge played on East Beach as a child in the 1960s, but over the last decade has witnessed an ‘alarming’ rate of erosion.

Mr Lodge has documented the receding coastline over the last decade by taking photos from the same spot.

He thinks East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) idea to ask the community for contributions to the beach management plan (BMP) is a ‘non-starter’ – but the authority says it is essential to unlock government funding.

“The lack of any action from EDDC is alarming,” said Mr Lodge, who owns Libra Court. “All that seems to happen is talking. When will some preventative action be taken? Monitoring is no solution to the problem of Pennington Point gradually disappearing.”

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Mr Lodge claims the erosion was caused by the construction of the rock islands that were intended to protect the cliffs.

He added: “As a youngster in the 1960s there was a substantial pebble beach. Nowadays, the beach has gone and there is nothing to break the force of the waves, particularly in a south-westerly storm.”

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Consultants are drafting a business plan so EDDC can secure £5.7million in government funding. The authority needs a further £3.3million in partnership funding to deliver the scheme and plans to write to businesses and residents to ask for contributions.

Mr Lodge said the idea is a ‘non-starter’ and argued the costs should be borne by ‘EDDC and the various agencies’.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “While we appreciate it took longer than some people may wish to get to this stage, the council felt it was important to take on the views of community representatives and to undertake additional research using more local sources of information as part of the BMP.

“The outline business case includes the outline design, and environmental impact assessment, which are prerequisites for any construction scheme on this scale to progress. Without completing these we would be unable to access DEFRA funding for the scheme.”

The spokeswoman said partnership funding was introduced to allow projects like the BMP to proceed – on the understanding that the communities that benefit would contribute.

She added that Sidmouth’s reliance on tourism means there is an ‘excellent case’ for local contributions to come in.

The spokeswoman said studies showed the erosion is not related to the breakwaters, and sediment recycling is proposed in the BMP to protect the cliffs.

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