Plans for a ‘new and improved’ £14million scheme to safeguard Sidmouth from the sea could eliminate the need for a controversial raised splash wall.
The Sidmouth Beach Management Advisory Group this week approved fresh proposals for flood defences to protect The Esplanade and crumbling cliffs at Pennington Point.
A cash boost from Defra has allowed the group to spend the past six months considering options previously dismissed because of a lack of funding.
New options have included scrapping a one-metre seafront splash wall some have feared would be an eyesore.
Consultant Royal Haskoning DVH says that more money means an extra set of rock islands- similar to the pair already off the beach – could be created.
These were originally part of a ‘preferred option’ considered by residents in public consultations.
Councillor Geoff Jung, chair of the Sidmouth Beach Management Committee, said: “This scheme has been very challenging for many years and agreeing to move on to the next stage is brilliant news.
“Climate change due to global warning was hardly a consideration when the earlier schemes were being considered.
“However, we now understand that the effects of the sea and weather will have serious detrimental consequences on the town of Sidmouth, but this plan is designed to protect properties and residents, to retain its character and unique charm for the next 100 years.”
East Devon District Council (EDDC) says the current rock islands have provided good protection from westerly storms and also created pebble and sand beaches at Clifton.
The new plan includes two extra rock islands which will be built off town beach, to the east of the current ones, reducing the wave action during storms and helping to protect the beaches.
On East Beach, the current proposal for a large rock groyne remains ‘the best option for the moment’, says the authority.
What happens next?
EDDC says the proposed outline of the scheme will now be made into an official document.
The advisory group will then be asked for its views before the proposals are sent to the Environment Agency.
If found to be ‘sound’, funding will be released to allow for the ‘detailed design stage’ to begin.
It is expected that some changes will be made to the current proposal at that stage.
If the changes are substantial, the scheme may have to go through a ‘technical review’ before the finalised designs are put forward for planning permission.
At this stage, further consultations with the public and official bodies will be carried out, says EDDC.