Sidmouth beach plan - questions over ongoing costs

Option 1 in the beach management plan

Option 1 in the beach management plan - Credit: Archant

Interested groups can comment on the options available to shore up Sidmouth seafront before the plan is completed in early November.

The beach management plan (BMP) steering group – made up of local authorities, community groups and regulatory and public bodies – was told 4B, a series of breakwaters is the best option to maintain a healthy beach and reduce erosion.

But the scheme would need £11million in partnership funding so members were told the best balance between technical viability, environment acceptability and affordability would be delivered by option 1 – to build one or two new rock groynes on East Beach.

This will need £2.3million in partnership funding, which project leader East Devon District Council (EDDC) said will be a challenge.

It will also require shingle to be shifted around or imported on an ongoing basis – and Councillor Cathy Gardner questioned how the authority can commit to such funding.

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She told the Herald: “It is extremely unlikely – I would say impossible – that EDDC can ringfence monies for the next 100-odd years for recharging the beach.

“Selecting an option that requires long-term maintenance in such an uncertain financial climate has to be madness. District councils all over the country are facing huge financial challenges due to continued government cutbacks. How can we expect beach recharging to be done?”

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A funding subgroup has been formed to see if the higher level of funding is available for option 4B. If it can do so in the next six months, the preferred option could change.

Cllr Gardner said 4B could cost much less than currently estimated, but neither option can be properly costed without computer modelling and tank testing.

It can take between four to six years to secure partnership funding and steering group chairman Cllr Andrew Moulding said ‘this must not be delayed’.

Cllr Matt Booth, who sits on the new subgroup, said: “The newly formed funding subgroup will seek funding opportunities not only for the breakwaters, but also the more affordable option of rock groynes and beach recharging and recycling.

“It is vital that everyone on the steering group continues to work together to find the best and most effective solutions to meet the objectives of the BMP.”

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