Sidmouth sea defences could cost double the £9m expected

The preferred option to protect Sidmouth from erosion. Picture: LDRS

The preferred option to protect Sidmouth from erosion. Picture: LDRS - Credit: Archant

Offshore breakwaters to protect Sidmouth beach from erosion would be more robust, but cost double the predicted £9million for the preferred scheme.

The Sidmouth and East Beach Management Scheme will add a new rock groyne on East Beach, import new shingle onto the beach, and raise the existing splash wall along the rear of Sidmouth promenade by 50cm (approximately 19 inches).

The current estimated cost of the project is around £9milion over its entire lifespan - around £5.7million is expected to be funded by central government, leaving a funding gap of around £3.3million.

At a recent steering group committee, additional offshore breakwaters were discussed and it was explained again that although the breakwaters may present a more robust solution technically, they would come at almost double the cost.

The cost has been re-examined recently by consultants Royal HaskoningDHV and they have confirmed that the previous costings as part of the Beach Management Plan were correct.

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Royal HaskoningDHV also presented some of the more detailed outline design drawings they are now working on, which have been developed with the use of 3D models to help ensure that costs for the volumes of rock and shingle are estimated accurately.

Additional surveys are being carried out along the seafront to help inform the outline design of the splash wall.

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The proposals also include improving maintenance access onto East Beach for future recycling and replenishment.

Royal HaskoningDHV’s thorough tests and methodical approach has resulted in a proposal to recharge the beach with a 10 metre flat section at the top, and a suggested increase in the height of the splash wall of up to 0.5 metres from its existing level, with sections of lower height where the beach is less exposed.

Cllr Tom Wright, stakeholder group chairman and portfolio holder for the environment, said: “It was good to meet with the group following the successful public exhibition event and to continue to hear their views and to keep the community updated as the scheme moves forward.”

Alex Lee, technical director from Royal HaskoningDHV, said: “We enjoyed having the opportunity to update the statutory bodies and local community on our progress so far, and to explain the work that has gone on behind the scenes.”

A council spokesman added: “Raising the height of the splash wall is a proposal that will continue to be considered very carefully as the outline design progresses. In addition, East Devon will ensure that adequate allowance is made for enhancements to the wall in the forward funding case.”

The scheme’s aim is to maintain the 1990’s Sidmouth Coastal Defence Scheme Standard of Service, as well as to reduce the rate of beach and cliff erosion to the east of the River Sid (East Beach) in an integrated, justifiable and sustainable way.

The next steps of the project are to finalise the ‘preferred option’ and obtain approval for the ‘outline business case’ that is required to obtain funding for the ‘detailed design stages’. It is expected to be submitted to the Government by the summer and if approved, work could begin in 2019.

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