Sidmouth coast event sparks debate

125 attend exhibition

MORE than 125 people flocked to a Jurassic Coast Pathfinder exhibition that sparked debate on Sidmouth’s crumbling coast.

Recharging beach at Pennington Point or extending town-centre sea defences to the east were suggested by those who attended the event at Kennaway House last Thursday, writes Charlie Lister.

Residents and visitors got the chance to learn more about coastal erosion and get involved in making decisions about managing the coastline.

Scores browsed information on display, with 80 packing a pair of presentations held by the Pathfinder team.

Project manager Rupert Lloyd said the event was well-received.

He added: “It was evident from the discussions that people in Sidmouth are keen to get involved in sustainable ways to adapt to change.

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“There was a good mix of residents and visitors who contributed to a lively discussion about the future of Pennington Point.”

The exhibition included specially commissioned, digitally-generated images of how radically Sidmouth’s coast could change in 20, 50 and 100 years time.

But the project team emphasised that these dramatic projections only show how Pennington Point might change under a policy of ‘no active intervention’ and encouraged a discussion of the alternative options.

The current policy is one of ‘managed realignment’.

Mr Lloyd added: “Proposed ideas included recharging the beach at Pennington Point, or extending the sea defences which protect the town centre to the east end of the beach.”

“A lot of people are aware that coastal change will always happen, that’s the reason that Sidmouth, as part of the Jurassic Coast, is a World Heritage Site.”

“We cannot afford to defend everywhere forever against the advancing sea, but we can widen the range of options open to communities to adapt to change.”

The Jurassic Coast Pathfinder project was launched in December 2009 as one of 15 projects nationwide designed to better engage communities in the process of planning to adapt to coastal erosion.

A priority aim of the project is to “encourage coastal communities to actively and meaningfully participate in the decision making process regarding coastal change.”