Option S1, the preferred option, consists of the construction of one or possibly two new rock groynes on East Beach

Draft Sidmouth BMP outline business case scoping document currently under review by steering group

The latest update on the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan (BMP) is that it is due to be completed and published in January 2017. The final revised BMP document, which is the result of extensive research and work by CH2M, East Devon District Council’s coastal flood and erosion risk management consultants, as well as public consultation, will guide and inform the necessary sustainable works for managing the risk of flooding and coastal erosion to properties, businesses and community infrastructure in Sidmouth.

During autumn 2016, the council’s BMP project team consulted the BMP Steering Group (SG) (which comprises both regulatory bodies and community groups) on the draft BMP report and took account of a detailed options appraisal prior to a meeting of the SG on 30 November 2016. Among the comments received, both the Environment Agency and Natural England expressed their support for the project and said that the project met their requirements at this stage. Natural England has said that it has no preference over the preferred Option S1 (the construction of one or possibly two rock groynes on East Beach) and Option S4 (additional offshore breakwaters) at this point in the process.

At the meeting, East Devon’s Project Manager Dave Turner explained that the BMP economics had been reviewed by an independent expert from the Flood Hazard Research Centre and that the economics on the final BMP will be revised inline with their recommendations with a resulting increase in partnership funding requirements (that element of the scheme not funded by government grant)  of approximately £1M. The review also made a number of recommendations to bolster the economic case for the BMP, and access additional funding from central government. These recommendations will be taken forwards as part of the next stage of the process to develop a beach management scheme for Sidmouth and East Beach.

The Chairman of the newly formed funding sub group, John Golding, East Devon’s Strategic Lead for Housing, Health and Environment, updated the SG on the progress made by the sub group, which had met twice (in September and October) before the November SG meeting. The sub group, whose specific purpose is to identify potential partnership funding, has already found a number of opportunities and will continue to explore potential funding streams to enable the progression of either option S1 or S4 before the next SG meeting in March 2017.  

As part of the next stage of the BMP, the SG is currently reviewing a detailed briefing document that, once approved, will be used as part of the tender process to appoint a consultant in March 2017, to carry out further more detailed modeling of the preferred option, produce an outline design for the preferred BMP option and write the outline business case, which the council will submit to the Environment Agency for approval of Government funding (Flood and Coastal Risk Management Grant in Aid). Comments on the scope from the steering group must be sent in to the council by 2 January 2017. The outline business case is currently planned for completion by June 2018.

The SG has asked that consideration be given to including the additional costs for undertaking the design development of Option S4 (consisting of additional offshore breakwaters) in the business case project, so that the costings for this option, which at present are almost double Option S1 (the preferred beach management option, consisting of the construction of one or possibly two new rock groynes on East Beach), can be refined.

Future work to be undertaken for the BMP over the next few months includes the completion of specification for bathymetric surveys and sediment sampling, which will be tendered via the South West Coastal Monitoring Programme in January 2017. These surveys/sampling will be used to inform the modelling and preparation of the council’s business case.

The council will also begin to implement other recommendations from the BMP, for example improved beach monitoring and repairs to existing structures such as the seaward end of the training wall have been included in the Council’s budget setting process.

The council also took the opportunity to work with the EA and use shingle that had built up in the River Sid to replenish part of East Beach.

Commenting on the next stages of the project, Councillor Andrew Moulding, who is the Chairman of the Steering Group, said:

At this point, I would like to clear up a persisting misconception that the sale of Knowle will release significant sums of money for East Devon District Council to use as it wishes. I must remind the Steering Group that the relocation was, and continues to be, a cost neutral exercise.

Option S1 is the actual preferred option that has been recommended to be progressed, as it is one that gives the best balance between technical viability, environmentally acceptability and economic case. Its £2.3m required level of funding contribution is more realistically achievable (with partners/beneficiaries contributing) and has the greater chance of being implemented in the shortest amount of time.

Martin Davies, Flood Risk Advisor at the Environment Agency, said:

Both options identified within the BMP will help manage the ongoing and future flood and erosion risk at Sidmouth. To obtain government grant funding toward the beach management scheme, a more detailed business case now needs to be developed and we will support the district council in delivering this. To be successful in obtaining funding approval for the scheme, the Environment Agency’s national approval board will seek assurance that any further funding required, in addition to eligible grant, is secure.  We look forward to working further with the district council in delivering this important scheme for Sidmouth.