Three cliff falls block Sidmouth beach

HUNDREDS of tonnes of Salcombe Cliff were deposited on Sidmouth s Eastern beach following three falls on Tuesday afternoon.

HUNDREDS of tonnes of Salcombe Cliff were deposited on Sidmouth's Eastern beach following three falls on Tuesday afternoon.

A major fall around 2pm, followed by two smaller ones soon after, has scarred deep into the red sandstone cliffs beyond cliff-top homes.

The fall is outside the area to be surveyed as part of East Devon District Council's flood protection investigations, said a council spokesman.

Eyewitness John Foxwell, 65, from Coulsdon Road said: "What I saw first was a tidal wave going out to sea.

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"It was like a bomb had gone off. It made a hell of a noise as it came down.

"I was going for a walk after doing some gardening and had just got to the seafront when I heard a roar.

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"I thought it was a 'plane. I turned round and the cliff had gone and a huge heap was there.

"It must be hundreds of tonnes, you can see the gouge, like someone has cut a piece out of the hill," said Somerset-born Mr Foxwell, whose planned walk to Weston was prevented by the closed Alma Bridge.

Former Berryhead Coastguard volunteer Denys Swarbrick, 78, from Brewery Lane, moved to Sidmouth from Brixham two months ago and was enjoying a stroll from The Byes to the seafront when he saw the fall.

He said: "I was standing by the boats when I saw it go. It was followed by two more falls.

"No-one was walking down there and I didn't hear anything because of the waves. It just fell straight down from the top."

Sidmouth Lifeboat volunteer Alan Bray was on duty when the falls occurred. He said: "There were lots of witnesses. Everyone was looking at all the red dust that went right out to sea."

EDDC's spokesman said: "This latest cliff fall is a further example of the unstable nature of the materials that form the cliff face, especially when attacked by heavy rain and the ocean."

Councillor Graham Liverton, EDDC's portfolio holder, environment, said: "Officers are in negotiations with the Environment Agency to see what can go there.

"The cold weather we had last week has not helped. What we don't want is the sewerage works to be contaminated and threaten Eastern Town."

He sympathised with Salcombe Hill residents inconvenienced by the closure of Alma Bridge, adding: "Pennington Point is my main concern.

"I feel deeply sorry for those living there. What we need is to be able to do something. I know we can't fight nature but we can help it.

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