A long-standing representative has warned Sidmouth is ‘in the last chance saloon’ over an £8.9million scheme to protect it from the sea.
Councillor Stuart Hughes is calling for the ‘whole town to unite’ behind a project to prevent flooding and halt coastal erosion that is facing a funding race against time.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) has revealed how a £1.5million shortfall must be filled in the next year – or it will have to pursue an alternative.
The preferred beach management scheme option – backed by experts – involves a new rock groyne on East Beach and raising the height of the seafront splash wall.
Shingle replenishment and periodic beach recycling – moving sand or pebbles from the sea bed to the beach – are also proposed, along with repairs to the River Sid training wall.
Senior district and county councillor Mr Hughes said: “This scheme got the green light to be worked up last week and the town now needs to get behind it.
“We’re in the last chance saloon – time is of the essence and all residents can get involved in helping design the raised splashwall element of the scheme, which is needed to protect the highway asset and prevent the town and businesses from tidal flooding.”
Cllr Hughes said the ‘huge, very complex and time-consuming’ piece of work was produced by the previous Conservative administration at EDDC.
“Many options were explored, townspeople consulted and a preferred scheme agreed,” he added.
Cllr Hughes says he has secured a ‘conditional’ £500,000 contribution from Devon County Council towards the scheme.
He added that the £1million ‘state-of-the-art’ replacement for Alma Bridge spanning the River Sid ‘depends’ on the planned coastal defence project to protect it from the elements.
Tory Mr Hughes has called on EDDC’s now independent administration to ‘deliver the agreed plan’.
EDDC says costs for construction of the scheme are estimated at £8.9million, and when based on the economic analysis and the number of properties at risk of flooding in the town, means around £3.2million of funding needs to be provided locally for the scheme to go ahead.
Cllr Geoff Jung, EDDC’s environment portfolio holder, said: “The protection of the seafront of Sidmouth is important not only to the town, but also to Devon and nationally, as it is recognised as a jewel of a seaside resort with many fine Regency and Victorian buildings.
“We at East Devon recognise that this scheme will protect the residents of this important town, as well as houses and commercial properties, and we will continue to work with the community and partners to complete this scheme.”
Further consultation of the splash wall height will be held, but it is expected the wall will need to be at one metre above the promenade to contain wave ‘overtopping’.
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