Concerns over erosion to ‘jewel in the crown’ Exmouth beach prompts protection plans

Concerns over the future of the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Exmouth has prompted talks to safeguard the beach for the future.

A new beach management group recently held a meeting to discuss ways to protect Exmouth beach from coastal erosion.

The Exmouth Beach Management Plan group, a team of residents, organisations and councils, aims to identify Exmouth’s coastal changes and find ways to protect from erosion, sand shift, storm and flood damage.

Councillor Paul Millar, group chairman, said: “This is a major and urgent project in which the end goal is to better protect and enhance the jewel in Exmouth’s crown.

“Around the lifeboat station, we have pipes sticking out the ground and putting the safety of our residents and visitors at risk.

“Our work starts immediately with our priority to work with the RNLI to repair the sea walls and extend the ramp, so it reaches the sea.

“Our biggest challenge will be securing external funding for managing the physical nature of the beach.”

East Devon District Council (EDDC) said the new group will help update the town’s beach management plan, prompted by ‘dramatic changes’, such as sand shift exposing previously-hidden dangers.

Cllr Geoff Jung , EDDC portfolio holder for coast country and environment, said: “Everyone who knows Exmouth beach is concerned at the recent changes to both the Estuary and the beach.

“We need to first understand why these changes are happening and then to formulate a plan to return the beach levels for the benefit of holiday makers and local people as best we can, but be aware of the impact of climate change and sea level rise as well as the limited funding available. This is going to be a challenging project.”

EDDC said the new group will tackle ways to protect the beach from future coastal erosion, and find ways to fund any safeguarding projects.

An EDDC spokesperson said: “Although overall sand volumes on Exmouth beach remain constant, there have been dramatic changes with some areas losing considerable amounts while other areas are gaining sand.

“This has led to old structures being exposed – such as beach hut timber foundations, old jetties, former groynes, and metal pipes, which would have led to safety issues if East Devon District Council had not been able to remove them swiftly

“The existing beach management plan needs to be updated, and it is important that EDDC understands Exmouth residents’ views, their local knowledge and how they envisage the beach plan should be managed in the future. “

They added: “Government funding for flood and coastal protection schemes are only available to protect homes and properties at risk.

“Therefore, Exmouth beach is unlikely to benefit from any substantial government funding, thus most of the scheme is likely to need funding from alternative sources.”

EDDC said: “The group will need to appoint consultants to further investigate the causes and any potential remedies to return the appropriate beach levels to protect the shoreside properties, the sea wall, car parks, and the road.

“Most importantly this will be to the benefit and additional beach safety to the many users of this very popular beach.”

EDDC said the beach management plan document will outline actions to be taken.

The next step was to agree on how far reaching the study should be, and the required outcomes, EDDC said.

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