Sidmouth seafront protection plan: summer target set to choose scheme

Picture Eve Mathews.

Picture Eve Mathews. - Credit: Archant

A ‘preferred option’ scheme to tackle cliff erosion and protect Sidmouth’s coastline from flooding is set to be decided in the summer.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is working with residents, councillors and community organisations, as well as bodies such as Natural England, South West Water and the Environment Agency, to formulate the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan (BMP).

A long list of potential schemes, covering the seafront from East Beach through to Jacob’s Ladder, has been drawn up. Its purpose is to ‘help maintain the standard of flood protection provided by the existing sea defences and to reduce the rate of erosion of the east cliffs’.

A shortlist is to be produced by EDDC’s consultants, CH2M, before the ‘preferred option’ is identified.

EDDC is hopeful of finalising the BMP document in the autumn. A detailed business case will then need to be prepared to bid for Government cash to make a scheme a reality.

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Once the proposed shortlist has been agreed, CH2M will be undertaking more detailed analysis of the options.

Current options include altering the existing rock groynes along the seafront or adding more offshore breakwaters.

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Members of the group formulating the plan had asked to see more detail about how the options for the shortlist would be decided and to understand why some had been discounted for technical or environmental reasons. Following a more detailed appraisal, further consultation with the steering group and members of the public will be undertaken during June to agree a preferred option.

This will include a public exhibition in Sidmouth, the purpose of which will be to gain as much feedback as possible to help inform the plan.

By the end of the summer, it is anticipated that the draft BMP, together with supporting documents, will have been produced.

This will be followed by further consultation and the finalisation of the plan itself in the autumn.

Councillor Andrew Moulding, chairman of the BMP steering group, said: “All the long-list options have been appraised technically, economically and environmentally and the overall project aim is to develop one, single integrated scheme for the seafront from Jacob’s Ladder to East Beach, and to inform a separate scheme for the River Sid that will be led by the Environment Agency at a later date.

“In the summer, we will be consulting with the public at large on the proposed options and we look forward to hearing the thoughts of the community on the practical measures that we hope will ensure sustainable management of the beach and continued protection from flooding and coastal erosion.”

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