Race against time to secure £1.5million - or Sidmouth won’t get coastline protection it wants

This photograph of Pennington Point and East Cliff was taken for the BMP by a drone at lower altitud

This photograph of Pennington Point and East Cliff was taken for the BMP by a drone at lower altitude. If you look carefully you can see circular waves with their centre at the end of the river training wall. This is wave diffraction and it can cause erosion. - Credit: Archant

Around £1.5million is urgently needed or Sidmouth will not get the flood and coastline protections it wants.

Sidmouth Beach Management Scheme Steering Group agreed to implement the preferred £9million option - subject to £1.5million of partnership funding being secured - at its latest meeting on Thursday, August 22.

If this funding is not found by August 2020 Sidmouth with not get the flood defences it wants.

The preferred option would involve beach replenishment, periodic beach recycling, a new rock groyne on East Beach, raising the height of the splash wall, and repairs to the River Sid training wall.

The current national Government funding scheme is based on how many properties will be protected.

Sidmouth can only access £5.7million from the Government's flood defence grant and needs to raise £3.2million locally.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has committed £500,000 while Devon County Council has pledged £500,000 and Sidmouth Town Council £100,000.

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Potential contributions from other sources are estimated at between £0.25million and £1.25million. This includes money from utilities companies, South West Water, S106 contributions, Cliff Road residents, East Devon's housing service, a local levy, Sidmouth Lifeboat and the Keith Owen Fund.

A further £1.5million is still needed.

An application for the £5.7million Government flood defence grant must be submitted with a final outline business case (approved by the Environment Agency) by August 2020. This application has to include the full funding information.

If the £1.5million is not found by the deadline, Sidmouth will have to go with an alternative plan and submit the application for a scheme that will only involve the town frontage.

A finance sub-group will be reconvened to look at how funds could be raised and the steering group will now be focusing its energy on securing resources to jointly fund the scheme.

EDDC will be contacting East and Mid Devon MPs Sir Hugh Swire and Neil Parish to ask for financial assistance.

Councillor Geoff Jung, who is responsible for the environment, said: "The protection of the seafront of Sidmouth is important not only to the town, but also to Devon and nationally, as it is recognised as a jewel of a seaside resort with many fine Regency and Victorian buildings.

"We at East Devon recognise that this scheme will protect the residents of this important town, as well as houses and commercial properties, and we will continue to work with the community and partners to complete this scheme."

Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council's representative on the steering group, added: "Whilst delighted that at long last there was almost unanimous consensus to move ahead with the preferred option around the table.

"There is still a lot more work to be done with design and funding sources to be identified and secured before submitting the scheme to secure the much needed government finance.

"From a County Council perspective the indicated funding of up to £500,000 depends on the raising of the splash wall to maintain the Highway asset and this is one aspect of the scheme that local residents can play an important part in designing."