Sidmouth residents’ cliff scheme gathers support

BRITAIN’S oldest civic society has lent its support to cliff-top residents who’ve devised a �900,000 scheme to halt Sidmouth’s crumbling coastline.

BRITAIN’S oldest civic society has lent its support to cliff-top residents who’ve devised a �900,000 scheme to halt Sidmouth’s crumbling coastline.

The Sid Vale Association (SVA) has joined Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce in backing homeowners who fear their properties will topple into the sea within 15 years.

SVA leaders this week warned the district council: ‘Procrastination is no defence to tidal waters’.

Cliff Road Action Group members last Tuesday submitted plans for a 210-meter-long granite revetment they hope can halt rapid erosion of the town’s east cliff and Pennington Point.

“To residents, the consequences of doing nothing are serious but are as nothing to the consequences of flooding within east town, and the future of Sidmouth as a resort,” said outgoing SVA chairman Handel Bennett.

“We continue to be greatly concerned at the danger to life and land at Pennington Point. We hope the council will listen and respond positively to the application.”

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Chamber of commerce members also welcomed plans for the five metre-high retaining wall. They labelled district council’s efforts to date as ‘ponderous and ineffectual’.

“Urgent action is required to save Alma Bridge, to protect the town centre from flooding and to reinstate safe usage of the eastern beach,” said a spokesman.

“Very large amounts of taxpayers’ money have been spent on well-intentioned talking shops and consultants.

“The entire process has been characterised by a complete absence of rigour.

“We suspect the cost thus far greatly exceeds that of a scheme of intervention which would solve this problem.

“A plethora of agencies are involved and all concerned have a responsibility to identify an outcome as a matter of urgency.

“It is abundantly clear there is a compelling economic case for intervention.”

Hopeful homeowners who submitted plans to halt rapid erosion of Sidmouth’s Pennington Point were this week warned: ‘There is nothing simple or straightforward about protecting a stretch of coastline’.

Various organisations must reach agreements over a multitude of issues if residents’ proposals for an east cliff revetment are to become a reality, according to East Devon District Council (EDDC).

The authority said preventing sea flooding of the town was its ‘main concern’ and there was a ‘long history’ of attempts.

“It would indeed be convenient if there was a simple and inexpensive solution,” said a spokesman.

“Unfortunately, whether it is acceptable to townspeople or not, this is a highly complex problem with a number of different parties needing to agree before works can be done that might satisfy all concerned.”

He said land ownership, environmental policy, and habitat protection were among issues to name a few.

The spokesman added that, until recently, coastal protection policy didn’t allow for the section of coastline under scrutiny to be considered for the kind of works proposed.

“Changes mean a scheme of some description might be possible here, but it will be subject to many checks and balances before it could go ahead,” he added.