Protect Alma Brigde plea from Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce

ALMA BRIDGE should be protected against the sea and not sacrificed to the waves, says the chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce.

ALMA BRIDGE should be protected against the sea and not sacrificed to the waves, says the chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce.

Concerned by a revised report being submitted to East Devon District Council by its consultants, Royal Haskoning, Chamber chairman Richard Eley, tells members in his summer newsletter that the consultants conclude it should be "sacrificed to the waves and a new bridge and footpath (to clifftop houses) constructed further upstream," rather than pay to protect it.

He writes: "Unfortunately the report perplexingly does not include any figures or values to uphold this conclusion.

"This is simply not good enough when a significant local landmark and vital pedestrian link is under threat."

He said the Chamber was well placed to make a case for the bridge's protection on economic grounds and added: "We will press very strongly for action to be taken as soon as possible.

"The footpath at the very top of the cliff is now beyond saving, but the situation can be quickly and inexpensively remedied by creating a new section leading from the penultimate bend."

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Mr Eley tells members he is confident revised figures over erosion rates at Pennington Point are reliable after he was invited to re-examine figures produced by Royal Haskoning shortly after its report was submitted to EDDC.

The report concluded there was no case for intervention according to present erosion rates.

But Robert Crick, chairman of the Vision Group for Sidmouth, questioned its accuracy at the April meeting of EDDC's executive committee.

Then he said: "Photographic and Ordnance Survey records confirm residents' perceptions that the Point did not recede by 55 metres (180 feet) between the 1880s and 1990s.

"I believe a decimal point has been misplaced, which suggests that this report is fatally flawed."

Subsequently the report was withdrawn and its figures revised.

Mr Eley writes in the Chamber's summer newsletter: "The new revised report to be presented to the district council will show the following:

1. Erosion rates since 1996, the first time measurements were taken after the rock islands were built, are in the region of 0.45 metres per annum. This is significantly less than previously indicated.

2. Erosion rates between 1888 and 1996 were of the order of 0.18 metres per annum, again much less than previously indicated.

"I am confident that these figures are now reliable and the district council can now proceed with their decision-making on the basis of a properly-calculated report as far as the erosion rates are concerned.