Residents devise £900k bid to halt Sidmouth cliff erosion

PUBLISHED: 15:36 24 April 2011

Paul Griew hands over the Ciff Road residents' application to Andy Carmichael- Assistant Development Manager at EDDC on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 5219-16-11SH

Paul Griew hands over the Ciff Road residents' application to Andy Carmichael- Assistant Development Manager at EDDC on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 5219-16-11SH

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CLIFF-top residents have devised a £900,000 scheme they hope will stop Sidmouth’s crumbling coastline from claiming their homes

CLIFF-top residents have devised a £900,000 scheme they hope will stop Sidmouth’s crumbling coastline from claiming their homes.

Householders say a 210 metre-long granite revetment can halt rapid erosion of the town’s east cliff and Pennington Point.

They fear having to one day abandon their homes as gardens topple into the sea at a rate of 13ft a year.

Frustrated residents turned activists say blueprints will protect £6 million of property, save Alma Bridge and nearby footpaths – worth more than £1 million – and prevent central Sidmouth from suffering ‘incalculable’ flood damage.

Bridge peril

POPULAR Alma Bridge, a gateway to Salcombe Hill for a quarter of a million residents and visitors every year, is just 24 months and eight metres away from being lost forever, campaigning cliff-top residents fear.

The brains behind a new bid to halt coastal erosion, who have watched their gardens vanish by 50ft in the last four years, also fear a further collapse at Pennington Point will leave central Sidmouth exposed and vulnerable to flooding and ‘major economic damage’.

They have also bemoaned the effective closure of Sidmouth’s east beach over the risk of injury or even death to walkers from rock falls.

Members of the newly formed Cliff Road Action Group marched on Knowle to hand in a planning application to East Devon District Council (EDDC) on Tuesday.

“It’s all too easy to ignore these issues until they affect you personally and directly, but that can be too late,” said leading campaigner Paul Griew.

“Everyone who lives in beautiful Sidmouth – and thousands of summer visitors too – benefit from the beaches and the cliff walks and assume the town is safe from flooding. But, unless action is taken to protect the east cliff, nothing can be taken for granted.”

Cliff Road residents said an ‘apparent lack of interest’ from authorities in the face of ‘rapidly accelerating erosion’ prompted them to devise their own plans.

They hope proposals for the five metre-high retaining wall, drawn up with the help of local civil engineers, will ‘inject a new sense of urgency’ into the situation.

Driving forces blame rock islands off Sidmouth beach, created in 1995, for a surge in ‘man made’ cliff erosion. They say the first Cliff Road home could be claimed by the sea in just 15 years and want to halt the trend to a ‘natural’ rate of just around 0.15 metres a year. Planning authority EDDC will ‘consider the application on its merits in due course’.

A spokesman added: “There is a tension between coastal protection and allowing natural processes of erosion. There are strong lobbies for both approaches.”


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