Investigations continue for Sidmouth Beach Management Scheme

Findings from exploratory excavations will help inform the outline design of East Devon District Council’s Beach Management Scheme for Sidmouth

East Devon District Council has appointed a local specialist geotechnical contractor South West Geotechnical, working in conjunction with Axminster Excavators, to undertake investigations into ground conditions on Sidmouth Beach and East Beach. The works started earlier last week, and we had originally  anticipated that they would be complete today Tuesday 7 November, but there has been a small delay due to wind and wave conditions, with completion now delayed until Wednesday 8 November, depending on the beach and weather conditions.

The works have involved excavating small trenches and recording the properties of the materials that are found beneath East Beach and Sidmouth Beach. Investigations are focused on areas where the council is considering construction of one, or possibly two rock groynes on East Beach, and around Port Royal Groyne and the River Sid Training Wall on Sidmouth Beach, where the council is considering options to improve maintenance access onto East Beach, which could include shortening these existing structures.

The information will assist the council’s consultants, Royal Haskoning DHV, with the outline design for the Sidmouth Beach Management Scheme, which is due to begin early in 2018, following completion of the initial phase of computer modelling. The outline design will determine the overall geometry of any new structures, or modifications to existing structures.

In addition to the computer modelling already underway, the outline design will allow East Devon to predict the costs and benefits of the scheme more accurately and to robustly demonstrate that the scheme as a whole is cost beneficial over its lifetime. The Outline Business Case, which is a report setting out the case for DEFRA to invest in the scheme, is due for completion in Summer 2019.

Nick Wood, Project Manager for South West Geotechnical, said:

It’s great to have the opportunity to work on a local scheme, in an area we know well as visitors, as well as from geological journals and conferences.

Cllr Phil Twiss, the chairman of the Sidmouth Beach Management Scheme steering group, said:

These investigations are an essential part of our studies to move forwards a scheme to maintain and improve the town’s protection from flooding and I’m pleased to see East Devon continuing to make good use of local expertise.

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

These investigations have been carefully planned to minimise the risk, but we’d continue to caution against the general public walking beneath the unstable cliffs in this location, particularly as the winter weather, eg rain and fluctuating temperatures, increases the risk of cliff falls.