Councillor welcomes Sidmouth coastal defence funding, but ‘it doesn’t address the present problem’.

Stuart Hughes. Ref shs 22 18TI 4996. Picture: Terry Ife

Stuart Hughes. Ref shs 22 18TI 4996. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

The funding for Sidmouth’s coastal defences is ‘excellent news’, according to a local councillor, but urgent action is needed now to tackle erosion at Pennington Point.

Stuart Hughes is deeply concerned about the series of rock falls there, including one last night, and has repeatedly called for East Devon District Council to take emergency steps to shore up the crumbling cliffs.

The expected £1million government grant bridges the funding gap for the beach management plan, but the project still needs to go through lengthy consultation, design and planning processes before any work can begin.

The Sidmouth Sidford councillor, who is also a member of the Beach Management Plan Steering Group, said: “This is excellent news and has got to be welcomed, but what it doesn’t address is the present problem.

“You’ve really got to grasp the nettle on this issue that’s facing us now, because the coastal flooding may be a bigger threat to Sidmouth than Covid-19, when you think about it.”

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Cllr Hughes, who is a town, district and county councillor, has used his locality budget to pay for a survey on the erosion at Pennington Point, but said the worsening situation was obvious to anyone.

He said: “The survey was on whether the erosion rate had increased since the last survey was done.

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“Well, the naked eye would tell you yes, certainly it’s eroding in the place where you don’t want it to erode, around that Pennington Point area, because now the sea is actually getting in behind the old bridge abutments, and once it gets in there we’ll have problems.

“Things aren’t going to get better, they’re going to get worse, and you need something to stem the amount of erosion that’s taking place now. Time and tide wait for no-one.

“I have sent an email to the bridge engineers and the engineers who are looking at this, and they’ve got the survey and all the data but I think they’ve been slowed up with Covid-19 and various other things, a bit stretched just like everybody at the present time.

“But life has to go on, Covid-19 can’t stand in the way of everything, we mustn’t let it.

“If something’s got to be done it’s got to be done, it’s not getting better there, that’s for sure.”

Read more here: Sidmouth finally has the £8.7million needed to protect its crumbling cliffs

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