Glass splash barriers - are they the answer for Sidmouth beach management plan?
PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:23 22 January 2020
Are glass splash barriers the answer to securing the future of Sidmouth's businesses and homes?
The district council is set to trial using a glass panel on top of the existing seawall, in The Esplanade, to see if it can stand up to the elements.
During the week commencing Monday, January 20, a temporary glass splash defence test panel has been installed.
Following the test, East Devon District Council's project team and flood defence consultants Royal Haskoning DHV will assess how the panel performed and will also review feedback from the public.
If successful, it is hoped parts of splash barriers, which are a vital part of the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan, could be made from glass.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) will consider whether the glass panels are a viable solution capable of offering improved protection for Sidmouth.
Previously, district councillor Geoff Jung said a splash barrier - what ever it's made of - is crucial to securing funding for the flood defences.
The district council said a splash defence is required to protect Sidmouth from flooding from storm 'events', which push large waves over the existing seawall.
An EDDC spokesman said: "While the existing wall does a good job stopping the town from being flooded, with the predicted sea level rise from climate change it will no longer stop water entering the town."
According to the council, central government is requiring coastal projects like this to have a minimum allowance of 1.2 metres of sea level rise in the future due to global warming.
Cllr Jung said: "A heightened splash barrier is acknowledged as being a requirement for part of the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan, which will provide the flood resilience required for the properties and businesses in Sidmouth as well as reducing East Cliff erosion.
"This is in response to increased severity of storms and sea rises due to climate change.
"It's also acknowledged that a single solid barrier would have a severe visual impact on Sidmouth's promenade.
"It is anticipated that glass panels may well provide a solution to the required protection and not impede the visual aspect of the much loved and historic promenade.
"A specific requirement of the government funding for this scheme is that every element must be adhered to and delivered in its entirety. "Therefore without the proposed splash barrier we will not receive any government funding."
The new defence, if built, would be placed where the existing low splash wall sits between the Esplanade and the highway.
Design details of the raised splash wall will be subject to further work involving the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan steering group as well as future consultations.
A number of design options are being investigated, included glass.
The splash barrier makes up just one element of the beach management plan which also includes beach replenishment, periodic beach recycling, a new rock groyne on East Beach and repairs to the River Sid training wall.
In a joint statement, Cllrs Denise Bickley, Cathy Gardner, Stuart Hughes and John Loudoun said: "Clearly there is a need to balance advice from qualified experts regarding flooding and rising sea levels with an aesthetically pleasing solution, as people are concerned about the visual impact of a splash barrier, but the Esplanade is a conservation area so any scheme will need to get planning consent.
"We, as ward members, along with other councillors and the conservation team will want to make sure the defence does not harm the seafront or have a negative impact on tourism.
"Access to the Esplanade will be an important consideration too, with gates opened and closed appropriately.
"We are very interested to see the results of the test, and to use the information gained to move the project forward."
Further information about the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan is on the East Devon District Council website.