The shingle beach plays a crucial role in protecting Sidmouth from flooding

Sidmouth's main beach now has a protective blanket of shingle

East Devon District Council has now completed work on the coastal defence beach recycling project at Sidmouth’s main beach, with the exception of clearing some drains that had filled with pebbles as the beach levels rose, and the reinstatement of a boulder into a rock groyne.

The work, which began on 5 January, was finished well within the original estimated time frame of six weeks and has restored the beach’s profile back to a healthy level with a protective blanket of shingle.

However, this is not about making the beach look pretty. For over 20 years the shingle has played – and continues to play - a crucial coastal defence role and therefore the importance of the recycling project should not be underestimated.

It was always envisaged that periodic recycling would take place from west to east to correct the net movement of beach material, which since the protection was installed in the 1990s has shifted from east to west.

Councillor Andrew Moulding, the council’s deputy leader and chairman of the Sidmouth & East beaches Beach Management Plan project’s Steering Group, said:

We sourced funding of up to £100,000 from the Environment Agency (EA) when central Government made emergency grants available after the 2013/14 winter storms. This is money that we would otherwise have had to spend as a district if we did not take the opportunity to tap into EA funding.

We have always been clear that a significant storm event could draw the beach material down again. Should it do so, a significant proportion of it is likely to remain between the rock groynes, below water level where it can't be seen,??where it still provides protection??and is available to be pushed back up the beach again by the sea.