UK: review of Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan to be deferredNews // March 13, 2017
Following a request from the Chairman of East Devon District Council, Councillor Stuart Hughes, councillors will delay discussing the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan (BMP) to a future date to allow the project’s Steering Group (SG) time to understand the considerations made during the Options Appraisal at the next SG meeting on 15 March 2017. Councillors were due to vote on adoption of the BMP at a meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday 8 March 2017.
Sidmouth’s BMP was completed in January 2017 by East Devon’s consultants CH2M, following extensive consultation and collaboration with the local community via the SG, whose members include a wide cross section of people representing both local businesses and residents (such as local fishermen, Sidmouth Sailing Club, Cliff Road residents, Chamber of Commerce, Vision Group for Sidmouth and Sid Vale Association), as well as regulatory bodies including the Environment Agency who have confirmed the BMP meets all the requirements of this stage of the process.
A final report for the BMP (which is essentially a monitoring and intervention plan covering the next five years) together with all its supporting information has now been published on the East Devon website.
The BMP commenced in January 2014 following concerns over rates of erosion at East Beach. Its aim is to maintain the 1990's Sidmouth Coastal Defence Scheme Standard of Service, as well as to reduce the rate of erosion on East Beach, with all the works to be carried out in an integrated, justifiable and sustainable way.
As part of the BMP’s development process, a wide range of options - designed to manage the risk of coastal flooding and erosion to property and other assets along the Sidmouth and East Beach - has been appraised using comprehensive technical, environmental, and economic methodology.
The outcome of this work is that the BMP has identified a preferred option - Option S1 (to construct one or possibly two additional groynes on East Beach, as well as modifications to the River Sid training wall and East Pier rock groyne, plus periodic shingle replenishment/recycling). The plan recommends that this is implemented as soon as possible to maintain Sidmouth’s protection against flooding and reduce erosion on East beach.
As the cliffs on East Beach shelter the River Sid flood defences, the reduced rate of erosion will help delay future investment to upgrade the flood walls to cope with coastal conditions, which would otherwise be required sooner.
If BMP Option S1 is unable to go ahead in the timescale required and the more rapid rates of erosion continue, East Devon would continue to work with the EA to manage the risk of flooding to the Sidmouth and to ensure the River Sid defences are upgraded as necessary.
Extensive research undertaken by CH2M has found that while low beach levels on East Beach are broadly coincidental with the construction of breakwaters, other periods of low beach levels and more rapid erosion have occurred recently. It is more likely to have been caused by a number of different factors, including:
• Persistently low beach levels due to persistent south-westerly storms
• Particularly wet weather since 2000
• Ongoing erosion along weaknesses of the bedrock joints
• Erosion of large chunks of weak sediment on top of the cliffs at Pennington Point
• In the early 1990s weakness along the line of a tunnel excavated along the base of cliffs at East Beach
Councillor Andrew Moulding, Chairman of the Steering Group, said: "We really appreciate all the support of the community groups who have provided valuable feedback throughout the steering group process. We value their input greatly and have incorporated their feedback into the BMP, which as a result is a much more robust document."
Over the next 12 months more work will be needed to secure the additional estimated £3.3 million funding contribution for Option S1, which is the preferred choice due to it providing the best balance between technical viability, environmental acceptability and an economic case. We hope that it will be possible to achieve this level of funding through contributions from partners and beneficiaries, as we need to have this sum firmly in place as part of the outline business case that we intend submitting in June 2018.
If it did prove possible to access a larger amount of money that would meet the target required for Option S4, then this would become the preferred option.