Royal HaskoningDHV updates Steering Group on progress made on beach management scheme

Royal HaskoningDHV, the new coastal flooding and erosion consultants recently appointed by East Devon District Council to take the Sidmouth Beach Management Scheme forwards as an Outline Business Case, met with the scheme’s Steering Group on Wednesday 13 September 2017 to talk about the work they have already undertaken, as well as the next stages of the project.

To date, Royal HaskoningDHV has agreed the approach to computer modelling with the Environment Agency and has incorporated the bathymetric survey data (which shows the levels of the sea bed off Sidmouth’s beaches) into a computer model of waves reaching the shoreline. The council’s consultants have also held initial discussions with East Devon’s statutory consultees to confirm the scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the scheme.

The computer model will be used over the coming months to determine storm conditions on the beaches both currently and for the future and will take into consideration predicted rises in sea levels. This will feed into further computer models to assess shingle movement along the shoreline and waves breaking over the seawall.

The wave overtopping assessment will be used to assess and identify both present day and future flood risk, including the depth of water and flow pathways. From this the estimates of economic damages to residential and commercial property, caused by flooding and erosion will be also be updated, and indirect damages such as emergency service costs, vehicle damage evacuation and temporary accommodation costs included. From this the council can update estimates of the funding available from DEFRA and the corresponding amount to be found from partnership funding locally (presently estimated at £3.3 million over the lifetime of the scheme).

Once this stage is complete later this year, Royal HaskoningDHV will then commence the outline design for the recommended beach management scheme from the Beach Management Plan with one or possibly two new groynes on East Beach, maintenance access improvements on Sidmouth Beach and recharge of shingle. This will involve testing and optimising the scheme using the computer models to provide the necessary protection to the town. Further consideration will be given to including alternative options such as offshore breakwaters in this exercise, if the additional design costs can be accommodated.

At the same time, an Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitat Regulations Assessment will also be undertaken to ensure that the eventual scheme is environmentally acceptable to the statutory bodes.

It is intended that by mid-2018, the outline business case for the SBMS will have been completed, ready for submission to the Environment Agency.

Commenting on the September meeting of the Steering Group, Councillor Phil Twiss, the new Chairman of the SG, said:

I am delighted to be working now with all the members of the Steering Group on the Sidmouth Beach Management Scheme project and I’m pleased to welcome on board our new project consultants Royal Haskoning DHV. Their expert input on the scheme will be of enormous benefit to the final outcome and they will be working hard to progress the project through to the submission of the Outline Business Case. While undertaking the different stages of the scheme, they will also review any previous work to ensure that the scheme is robust and fit for purpose when we are in a position to bid for funding.

Councillor Tom Wright, East Devon’s portfolio holder for the environment, said:

It is good to see the Steering Group acknowledge the need to be pragmatic about the levels of funding available and the need to be move forwards with a scheme that can realistically be executed.

Alexander Lee, Project Manager for Royal HaskoningDHV, said:

The Steering Group meeting was extremely useful and gave us the opportunity to meet some key stakeholders who offer valuable local knowledge. Our initial modelling work is progressing well and we look forward to moving into the outline design stage in the new year.