Natural England, Jurassic Coast Team, Environment Agency and East Devon AONB in agreement on need to have a healthy beach in Sidmouth

Following a meeting of the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan (BMP) project steering group on 17 August 2016, East Devon District Council’s BMP project team and its consultants CH2M have 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.

Alternatively, Option S1, in addition to these impacts, may in part directly impact the designated geology itself.

The agencies are all satisfied that the council will seek to minimise as far as practicable the impacts of any beach management scheme during the outline and detailed design phase of the project. For example by offsetting groynes from the cliff face, or limiting the height or extent of any structure.

No guarantee can be given at these early stages that a technically viable beach management scheme would be environmentally acceptable. However all of the agencies are supportive of Option S1 or S4, subject to the council providing more detailed environmental assessments during outline and detail design, and with particular emphasis on:

  • landscape (and seascape) visual impact assessment
  • geomorphological and coastal processes assessment
  • ecological assessment

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.

Councillor Andrew Moulding, Chairman of the BMP Steering Group, said:

We are extremely grateful for Natural England, the Jurassic Coast Team, Environment Agency and East Devon AONB’s support throughout the development of the beach management plan and welcome their continued support for measures to maintain a healthier beach on East Beach.

East Devon looks forward to continuing to work constructively with environmental bodies, the local community and the EA to implement a beach management scheme across Sidmouth and East Beach

We’re pleased that through the beach management plan process, we’ve been able to agree a way forward to help maintain a healthy beach at East Beach, while respecting East Devon’s unique and internationally recognised coastline.