Council and stakeholders meet to review baseline reports prior to meeting public

East Devon District Council’s drop-in session for the Seaton Beach Management Plan project, held on 30 August, proved a successful and instructive event, as members of the public met up with East Devon District Council and its consultants CH2M, to learn more about the work undertaken so far and to hear the findings of the baseline reports.

Prior to the drop-in, the project’s Stakeholder Group met with East Devon and CH2M to discuss the baseline report and non-technical summary, which CH2M has produced covering four topic areas; Environment, Defences, Coastal Processes and Economics. All of the summaries and reports are published on East Devon’s website.

The findings from the these baseline reports will be used to inform the Options Appraisal, which is the next stage of the BMP process, as well as to inform future management of the beach.

The Environment baseline identifies the key features within the BMP area and identifies some of the preliminary issues and constraints. For example, the designated nature and geological conservation sites to the east and west of the town.

The Coastal Processes baseline provides details of the processes ongoing along the BMP area, and beyond, drawing on beach monitoring and other data to assess changes in the beach and shoreline. Generally the beach at Seaton is relatively stable in the east, with larger fluctuations in beach levels observed toward Seaton Hole and along West Walk.

The defence baseline looks at the history of the defences in the area, the condition and residual life of existing defences, the potential for waves overtopping the sea wall and an assessment of the beach profile, which is required to prevent build-up of the shingle against the sea wall.

Although the town’s sea defences are in good condition, there are some areas towards the west, which are cause for concern and these will need further consideration during the options appraisal. The overtopping assessment looks at those properties, which are at risk from waves breaking over the seawall. Where the beach is narrower towards the west of the town, the risk of this is higher with property damage expected to occur on a more frequent basis with up to 20 properties at risk during more extreme storms.

The economics baseline considers what damages could occur should there be no further action to manage the risk of flooding and erosion along the entire beach frontage over the next 100 years, including the cost of damage from flood water and the loss of properties through erosion. This gives a total of £6 million of damage (at present value) over the next 100 years, which, based on current funding formula, would give around £0.56 million of funding from central government for works to reduce the risk of flooding and erosion. The next stage of the BMP process is for CH2M to identify all of the issues from the baseline reports, and then to start looking at options to address these with a number of further stakeholder meetings planned in September to look at a long list of options.

Cllr Tom Wright, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for the environment, said

The completion of the baseline reports is a really important step for the BMP, and sets expectations as we move forward to work with local people to look at options to reduce the risk along Seaton’s coastline.

Cllr Marcus Hartnell, lead councillor for Seaton and Chair of the Stakeholder Group, said:

It was good to hear about all the work that has been carried out so far and I was pleased to see so many people attending the drop-in session to find out for themselves the results of the work to date.

Non technical summaries and baseline reports for the Seaton BMP can be found on the East Devon website: /coastal-protection/beach-management-plans/seaton-beach-management-plan/baseline-reports/