Scheme to protect Sidmouth seafront set to be decided in June

Picture Eve Mathews.

Picture Eve Mathews. - Credit: Archant

Beach Management Plan latest: long list of options to be whittled down by consultants

Dark skies above Sidmouth. Picture Eve Mathews.

Dark skies above Sidmouth. Picture Eve Mathews. - Credit: Archant

A ‘preferred option’ scheme to tackle cliff erosion and protect Sidmouth’s coastline from flooding is set to be decided in June.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is working with residents, councillors and community organisations, as well as bodies such as Natural England, South West Water and the Environment Agency, to formulate the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan (BMP).

A long list of potential schemes has been drawn up – the purpose of which is to ‘help maintain the standard of flood protection provided by the existing sea defences and to reduce the rate of erosion of the east cliffs’.

A shortlist is to be drawn up, before the ‘preferred option’ is decidced upon.

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Driving forces are hopeful of finalising the (BMP) document in the autumn, before any bid can be made for Government cash to make a scheme a reality.

The April 18 deadline for additional comments on the revised appraisal has now passed and EDDC’s consultants, CH2M, is to produce a shortlist.

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Once the proposed shortlist has been agreed, CH2M will be undertaking more detailed analysis of the options, which aim to protect Sidmouth, from East Beach through to Jacob’s Ladder.

Current options include altering the existing rock groynes along the seafront or adding more offshore breakwaters.

The Sidmouth Beach Management Plan is expected to be finalised in the autumn. EDDC will then prepare a detailed business case to access Government funding for any scheme.

Members of the group formulating the plan had asked to see more detail about how the options for the shortlist would be decided and to understand why some options had been discounted for technical or environmental reasons.

Following a more detailed appraisal, further consultation with the steering group and members of the public will be undertaken during June to agree a preferred option.

This will include a public exhibition in Sidmouth, the purpose of which will be to gain as much feedback as possible to help inform the plan.

By the end of the summer, it is anticipated that the draft BMP, together with supporting documents, will have been produced.

This will be followed by further consultation and the finalisation of the plan itself in the Autumn.

The council will then prepare a detailed business case to access government funding for the scheme.

Councillor Andrew Moulding, chairman of the BMP steering group, said: “All the long list options have been appraised technically, economically and environmentally and the overall project aim is to develop one single integrated scheme for the seafront from Jacob’s Ladder to East Beach, and to inform a separate scheme for the River Sid that will be led by the Environment Agency at a later date.

“In the summer, we will be consulting with the public at large on the proposed options and we look forward to hearing the thoughts of the community on the practical measures that we hope will ensure sustainable management of the beach and continued protection from flooding and coastal erosion.”

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