Sidmouth Beach Management Plan: Glass panel test wall survives two storms

The glass sea wall on Sidmouth seafront after Storm Dennis. Picture: Daniel Clark

The glass sea wall on Sidmouth seafront after Storm Dennis. Picture: Daniel Clark - Credit: Archant

The temporary glass ‘sea wall’ on Sidmouth seafront has survived its second test.

The splash defence is a part of the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan that has been designed to try and protect the town from the elements and reduce the rate of erosion following several large cliff failures shown at Pennington Point and along East Cliff.

The glass wall has survived both Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, bar two very small chips.

Councillor Stuart Hughes said: "Dennis was one of the most powerful storms recorded and the glass panel has taken a vigorous test… remember if used it won't be near the railings and seawall edge."

The Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan's preferred option involves raising the height of the splash wall by one metre, as well as involving beach replenishment, periodic beach recycling, a new rock groyne on East Beach, and repairs to the river Sid training wall.

East Devon District Council has been exploring the possible use of glass sections of sea defence and the glass panel has been installed at the top of the existing sea wall, mid-way between the York Street and Fore Street road junctions in Sidmouth.

Cllr Geoff Jung, who is responsible for the environment at EDDC, added: "The location was chosen to receive the maximum impact from the sea and pebbles. However, the splash barrier, if the trial proves it to be effective, is intended to be located between the highway and promenade, to a maximum of one metre high from the promenade floor level.

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"Fitting glass sections, plus other possible initiatives will all be considered, prior to a public event when all the options will be explained and consulted upon.

"This seafront location trial will allow us to analyse if glass sections can be used in a location such as Sidmouth."

The preferred beach management scheme also consists of adding a new rock groyne on East Beach and importing new shingle onto Sidmouth Beach.

The scheme aims to maintain the 1990's Sidmouth Coastal Defence Scheme Standard of Service and reduce the rate of beach and cliff erosion to the east of the River Sid. The plans would not stop cliff falls but would reduce the erosion from the toe of the cliffs, which would reduce the erosion rates.

Costs for construction of the scheme are estimated at £8.9 million, with around £1 million still needed to be found.

The South West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (SWRFCC) has agreed to grant the BMP £500,000 to help bridge the effective funding gap, which had stood at £1.5 million.

The planning and delivery of the Sidmouth Beach Management Scheme is included as a key objective as part of service plans for the council in 2020/21, with the funding gap required to be found by August 2020 as a shortstop deadline, and December 2020 as a longstop deadline. If by then the funding has not been found, the council will have to review the project.