East Devon District Council’s BMP project team and its consultants CH2M recently met with representatives from Natural England, the Jurassic Coast Team, Environment Agency (EA) and East Devon AONB to discuss the preferred option for long term coastal flood and erosion across Sidmouth Town Beach and East Beach.
The project team explained that although offshore breakwaters (Option S4) were preferred technically, and potentially have less environmental impact, it was concluded that Option S1 (one or two groynes on East Beach) has a more realistic chance of obtaining the required partnership contributions locally which is necessary to unlock the government funding required and therefore more likely to be implemented in the necessary timescales.
All the agencies are in agreement that whilst it may be more in keeping with the environmental designations in this area to allow the continued erosion of the cliffs at East Beach, it is desirable to reduce the rate of erosion for cliff top residents and to reduce the impact of waves on Sidmouth defences by maintaining a healthier beach on East Beach.
The shortlisted options are all likely to have a significant affect on the environmental and landscape designations at East Beach. Option S4 would primarily affect the setting of these designations (the landscape and seascape), as well as altering the views from the AONB and affecting below water habitats.
The agencies are committed to working constructively with the council and the EA throughout the design process, to guide the implementation of a beach management scheme for Sidmouth and East Beach.