Emergency Exmouth seawall repairs costing more than £1million are set to start this month in a bid to protect the storm-stricken structure.
A barrier made of steel sheet piles costing more than a million pounds is to be installed in front of part of Exmouth’s sea wall in a bid to save it, writes local democracy reporter Will Goddard.
Cracks appeared in the wall in front of the Sideshore development in August 2023, and a storm at the end of October weakened it further and put it at risk of collapse.
The sloped revetments at this part of the wall have no foundations, and this, coupled with low beach levels, has allowed waves to wash out sand from underneath.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) used concrete blocks and sand to keep it intact through Storm Ciaran, and has now backed up to £1.1 million for the emergency repairs. Around £60,000 is thought to have been spent so far.
The barrier will extend for 255 metres between Sideshore and Coastwatch House. A 90-metre portion of wall near Sideshore has already failed and a further 155 metres towards Coastwatch House is at risk.
Work lasting around eight and a half weeks is likely to begin in early January, but could start sooner.
Cllr Steve Gazzard (Lib Dem, Exmouth Withycombe Raleigh) said: “There is a big problem down at that sea wall, and it is rightly called an emergency.
“It’s not just where the sea has punched through the wall. It’s all the way along the wall.
“If we have any more storms that hit that wall, there is the possibility that the rest of it could completely fail and collapse.
“And that’s not being over the top. That’s being realistic from what we’ve been told by the consultants.”
The wall will have bare steel sheet piles for the time being, but these could be clad in future at extra expense. The sloped revetments will also be removed but could be replaced.
Cllr Olly Davey (Green, Exmouth Town) said: “We may have to put up with it for a year or two, but I think the public will understand that it’s not very pretty, but it’s doing a very important job.
“Hopefully then we can look at some kind of screening on the steel piling so that it’s not quite so stark in future.
“It’s very clear that we have to act quickly to protect the land behind that wall. The road and everything else is at risk otherwise.”
The Environment Agency could help cover around £500,000 of the cost, but this is not yet guaranteed.
The wall is believed to be around 100 years old.