A long-awaited scheme to safeguard Sidmouth seafront and protect the town from flooding has been given a £500,000 boost.
The six-figure award from the South West Flood and Coastal Committee has single-handedly plugged one third of a £1.5million funding gap faced by the project.
It means the preferred option for the East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan (BMP) is a step closer to becoming a reality.
The £8.9milion scheme involves a new rock groyne on East Beach and a raised seafront splash wall.
Sidmouth this week week became the first place in the UK to trial a glass flood shield next to a shingle beach – with a test panel sited on The Esplanade.
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.
EDDC says a £1million shortfall must still be filled by August or it will have to pursue an alternative.
In a joint statement, Sidmouth district councillors Cathy Gardner, Denise Bickley, John Loudoun and Stuart Hughes said today (Wednesday, January 22): “East Devon and the town council are working hard to find the contributions required to close the funding gap, currently around £1million.
“We hope that the required funding can be found for this vital protection for our town.
“Climate change is increasing the risk of flooding from the sea and we need to address that risk.
“Unfortunately, the Government will not provide all the required funding, which means the some of the funding has to be found locally.”
Councillor Hughes added: “I am delighted that the members of the finance sub group agreed with the case that I made for this additional funding and I was able to show local support for funding for the scheme – including the town, district and county councils and local residents of Cliff Road.
“This is a very welcome contribution to the BMP, and considerably reduces the funding gap of £1.5million, which is required to be found locally.
“We are still working on additional funding sources to fully close the funding gap, but this grant has helped the shortfall drop to £1m.”
The South West Flood and Coastal Committee was established by the Environment Agency under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.
It brings together members appointed by Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) and independent members with relevant experience.
One of its purposes is to encourage efficient, targeted and risk-based investment in flood and coastal erosion risk management that represents value for money and benefits local communities.
It carries this out by carefully allocating funding for the whole south west to where it is most required.
An EDDC spokesperson said: “Depending on the level of contributions from other potential sources that have been identified such as utilities companies, East Devon’s housing service and Sidmouth Lifeboat, the effective funding gap has now been brought down to around £1million, which must be found before the scheme can achieve grant funding and deliver an improved beach management scheme for Sidmouth via the preferred option for the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan.
“However, the current £1m funding gap could increase if these identified potential sources do not contribute.”
Further information about the scheme can be found here.
EDDC has also updated its frequently asked questions section on the project.