Support for Sidmouth’s BMP to enter next stage

Option 1 in the beach management plan

Option 1 in the beach management plan - Credit: Archant

A project to shore up Sidmouth seafront took a step closer to being realised after a board of community representatives gave its support.

Steering group members yesterday (Thursday) voted in favour of the final version of the beach management plan (BMP) being adopted by East Devon District Council (EDDC).

The authority’s cabinet last week deferred its decision until the steering group’s vote and it will be back on the agenda when councillors meet on Wednesday, April 5.

If approved by cabinet members, the next stage is for consultants to produce an outline business case, which will eventually lead to the BMP being implemented.

Yesterday’s meeting also saw rock armouring along East Beach conclusively ruled out after the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) team reiterated its unsuitability.

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This was because the hard coastal defence does not fit with policies on shoreline management, and it is likely to have a significant negative impact on the setting of the World Heritage Site.

EDDC advised progressing its preferred BMP scheme, option 1, which proposes one or two new groynes on East Beach.

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John Golding, the council’s strategic lead for housing, health and environment, said the £3.3million it requires in partnership funding is ‘more realistic’ than the £12.2million needed to fund the technically preferred option 4, to construct more offshore breakwaters.

But Mr Golding added that work must continue to ensure monies can be secured from the range of contributors approached for funding to provide the confidence necessary to secure Defra grant in aid.

Councillor Andrew Moulding said: “The East Devon AONB has given us clear and consistent guidance on the unsuitability of a rock revetment for East Beach.

“Furthermore, their position gives the district’s planning officers no alternative but to recommend to refuse any applications for planning permission for this type of coastal and flooding defence in this location should such an application be made.

“Following extensive debate, with many views being expressed, it has become clear to the steering group that rock revetment is unacceptable.

“While it was important that this topic was given a chance to be revisited again, it is essential that we continue to heed the advice of our statutory partners and work constructively with them to progress the preferred option.”

Sidmouth’s Cllr Stuart Hughes added: “I believe it was right to have delayed cabinet’s decision on the BMP until the steering group had a chance to democratically and fully debate the scheme.

“Steering group members needed to satisfy themselves that they are moving forward with a robust plan that is fit for its purpose of defending Sidmouth from coastal flooding and erosion.

“I fully support the BMP moving forward to adoption at cabinet and I look forward to working with the steering group to implement the scheme as soon as is practicable.”

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