Sidmouth is at risk of flash floods

SIDMOUTH'S flood defences could be updated following a report putting the town among 200 communities at risk from flash flooding.

SIDMOUTH'S flood defences could be updated following a report putting the town among 200 communities at risk from flash flooding. As a result of the Environment Agency report, spokesman Mike Dunning said Sidmouth's flood defences - now around 40 years old - could be reviewed. The primary defence is the Mill Ford flood gate, with the Byes acting as a natural flood plain. Mr Dunning said the gate had performed well since it was installed and a remote monitoring system was in place, which was active 24-hours-a-day. He said the protection was designed to give a one in 100 year level of protection. It particularly protects Mill Street and the town centre, which were hit by serious floods in 1968. "The defences that are there have done a good job, but the report has identified catchment areas across the region where we think there could be a risk. "Sidmouth is not in a situation where it is under massive risk, but we must not lose sight of the fact that change can happen. "The Sidmouth scheme has been in place for [more than] 30 years, we need to think 'do we need to do anything to it to ensure people are kept safe and that homes and businesses are not put at risk?' "The report is a springboard for us to discuss how, in future, schemes could be updated and how the agency can work with emergency services. Richard Horrocks, the agency's flood defence manager, confirmed the town was "more at risk from this sort of flooding than other areas." "We are not in the business of underplaying the risk of flooding," said the agency's Mark Rice. "Lessons from the summer 2007 floods have been learned. We have to be prepared for more flooding in the future." The agency said householders in flood risk areas would have to take greater responsibility like making their own emergency plans, which could include sandbags, where to park their cars, and moving plug sockets high up walls to stop water getting into them. Mr Dunning added that, with changing weather patterns and rising sea levels, East Devon District Council may 'sooner or later' need to review its own coastal defences, which the agency was not responsible for. Councillor Stuart Hughes said: "This gives chance to get something done about coastal protection to the east of the River Sid. If there is a severe South Easterly the whole of the eastern town is threatened." Mr Hughes, who has been campaigning for coastal protection for the eastern end of Sidmouth for years, said a meeting was held between all relevant parties to come up with a scheme acceptable to everyone.

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