Sidmouth Main Beach looking across to Eat Beach

Consultants Royal HaskoningDHV will explain the steps being taken to obtain Environment Agency approval for a scheme to protect the town

A meeting of the Sidmouth Beach Management Steering Group will take place on 13 September to allow members of the local community, as well as statutory partners, such as the Environment Agency and Natural England, to meet with East Devon District Council’s project team and project consultants Royal HaskoningDHV. 

The meeting will give Royal HaskoningDHV the opportunity to explain the investigatory work that has already begun, as well as the computer modelling and outline design, which will continue over the next 12 months. The more detailed flood modelling, project costs and environmental appraisal will be used to help build a business case for Sidmouth’s Beach Management Scheme, which will be submitted to the Environment Agency for their approval next summer (2018).

The scheme aims to maintain a healthy beach along Sidmouth and East Beaches and to maintain the town’s protection against coastal flooding, while also reducing the rate of erosion on East Beach.

As part of the investigations for the scheme, a survey and sampling of the sediment from the seabed along the coast of Sidmouth has recently been completed by Plymouth Coastal Observatory, who manage regular monitoring of the coastline around the south west of England.

Royal HaskoningDHV will be using that data, as well as other information, including Met Office data on storm conditions to develop and validate computer models of the coastline at Sidmouth. These models will be used to assess the risk of flooding under various beach conditions, and also to calculate the response of the beaches to storm conditions.

To deliver the most cost effective option identified within the BMP, an estimated £3.3m of partnership funding is still required from sources that are yet to be secured. Without this, funding from central government for a scheme at Sidmouth will not be available.

Should all of the requisite funding be available, the earliest that construction of the final scheme can take place on site is likely to be in 2019.

Councillor Phil Twiss, Deputy Leader of East Devon District Council, and portfolio holder for strategic development and partnerships, who has taken over as chairman of the BMP Steering Group from Cllr Andrew Moulding, said: 

I’m delighted to be involved in this important project for Sidmouth in my new capacity as portfolio holder. It’s exciting to be moving forwards to the next phase of this project to manage the risk of flooding and erosion to Sidmouth and I’m extremely grateful to Cllr Moulding whose input has been invaluable in helping the project reach this point.

Cllr Tom Wright, who is the new environment portfolio holder at East Devon District Council, taking over from Cllr Iain Chubb, said:

We are pleased to be working with Royal HaskoningDHV who will be developing an Environmental Impact Assessment for the scheme to ensure that the impacts are understood and that the scheme will be permissible. Steps will then be taken to minimise the impact on Sidmouth’s internationally recognised coastline, while recognising the need to protect the town.

Alexander Lee, Project Manager for Royal HaskoningDHV, said: “Royal HaskoningDHV are excited to be working with the team at East Devon District Council to help take forward the Sidmouth BMP.  Our locally based project team understand the importance of this stretch of coastline and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to progress this vital project.”