Sidmothian accuses district council of ‘throwing money away’ on temporary seafront defences

Shingle on Sidmouth's eastern beach

Shingle on Sidmouth's eastern beach - Credit: Archant

Calls for authority to look at most expensive option as only way forward to protect town

A Sidmothian has accused the district council of ‘throwing money away’ by commissioning temporary seafront defence measures.

Garland Pickard hit out at the ‘ludicrous’ decision to spend £1,000 of taxpayers’ cash on 600 tonnes of shingle on the town’s eastern beach last month, as he says it has all but washed away already.

The Riverside Road resident has also echoed critics of the authority’s ‘preferred’ option to shore up the coastal defences on a long-term basis and argued the favoured cheaper, but less effective, solution would also be a waste of money.

In response, East Devon District Council (EDDC) said the replenishment work carried out before Christmas was ‘good value for money’ and maintained the most effective option outlined in Sidmouth’s beach management plan (BMP) is too costly.

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Mr Pickard said: “Dumping flints from the river onto the beach at Port Royal was just a total waste of money.”

He said that it was a ‘ludicrous decision’ by EDDC to have authorised the payment, which, he claimed, ‘seems to know nothing of wave actions in relation to the movement of shingle’.

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The council’s preferred long-term scheme to protect the town, option one, would see the installation of additional rock groynes on the eastern beach.

Mr Pickard argued the seafront’s current groynes are ineffective because they do not allow shingle to move over them across the beach – as would occur naturally – so the material washes out to sea.

He says option four - additional offshore breakwaters – should have been installed years ago and claims any other plan would be a further waste of money.

Others, including BMP steering group member Robert Crick, have also expressed doubts about pressing forward with option one and suggested the costings of option four should be revisited.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “We believe replenishing the shingle on the town’s eastern beach is good value for money. The shingle available from the River Sid is material which was trapped behind School Weir and would otherwise have been deposited on Sidmouth’s beaches. We will review its effectiveness in the spring once the next set of beach surveys are completed.

“As far as the BMP is concerned, EDDC has been advised that option one would be effective in maintaining a healthier beach and therefore reducing the rate of erosion of the cliffs behind. We have always acknowledged that option four would be more effective, but the scale of partnership funding required for this option - in excess of £12million - is likely to exceed what is affordable locally.

“We are continuing to explore the scale of partnership funding which could be available with a sub-group from the BMP steering group.”

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