Gravel from the River Sid being spread across the beach below the fishermen's area of Sidmouth

Access may be restricted to fishermen's area of Sidmouth beach where works are being carried out

Around 600 tonnes of shingle, which Storm Angus deposited at School Weir on the River Sid in Sidmouth, is being redistributed by East Devon District Council across the beach at the eastern end of Sidmouth, adjacent to the fishermen’s area, courtesy of the Environment Agency (EA), which is responsible for the weir.

Situated at the southern end of the Byes, School Weir helps protect Sidmouth from flooding via the River Sid and the sediment that has accrued there would otherwise have been deposited on Sidmouth’s beach around the mouth of the River Sid.

Historically, School Weir’s shingle has been used to replenish levels on Sidmouth’s beaches as part of East Devon District Council’s ongoing beach management strategy and to assist the EA.

Dredging at School Weir commenced on Wednesday 7 December and the shingle will be spread over the eastern end of the beach during the course of Thursday 8, Friday 9 and Monday 12 December. The cost of the works to spread the shingle on the beach is estimated to be around £1,000.

The public should be aware that in the interests of safety, while the works are being carried out, access to the eastern end of Sidmouth’s beach may be restricted.

The shingle replenishment is taking place despite the South West Coastal Monitoring Programme’s regular surveys of Sidmouth beach levels not showing that the beach requires recycling – a process that involves moving excess shingle from one area to another where there is less material, or recharge – the import of new shingle.

Dave Turner, East Devon District Council's Engineering Projects Manager, said:

In response to concerns raised by a member of the steering about reduced beach levels potentially putting Sidmouth at risk from winter storms, we have asked that the South West Coastal Monitoring programme undertake a survey of beach levels in addition to their regular beach monitoring. This took place on Saturday 3 December and the survey data is currently being reviewed by the council’s technical experts at CH2M.

We fully sympathise with the concerns of some members of Sidmouth’s community, which is why we took the decision to take advantage of the EA’s offer to let us transfer shingle from School Weir to East Beach.

Councillor Iain Chubb, portfolio holder for the environment at East Devon District Council, said:

We are grateful to the Environment Agency, who are key partners in the BMP scheme for Sidmouth, for letting us use their shingle to replenish the beach level by the fishermen’s area. The timing, with the onset of winter, couldn’t have been more serendipitous and we hope that the new gravel will add a blanket of protection to Sidmouth over the coming months, reducing the impact of any storms.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said:

The EA are supporting East Devon District Council with the development of their Beach Management Plan (BMP) for Sidmouth seafront and East Beach. Beach levels in this area are known to be susceptible to change and the BMP will identify options to help manage beach levels to reduce the risk of flooding and erosion along the Sidmouth frontage. Additional funding was made available to all Risk Management Authorities (RMAs), including EDDC by government to repair storm damage following the severe storms in 2013/14. This included additional funding to help restore beach levels to pre storm levels at Sidmouth and elsewhere. This additional funding opportunity to help authorities recover from 2013/14 storm damage is no longer available, but the BMP is being used to develop a business case to justify further beach management works at Sidmouth. The level of flood and erosion risk at Sidmouth is dependent on the severity of any future storm with the management of beach levels in front of defences being an important factor in managing this risk.