Sidmouth’s Beach Management Scheme aims to reduce the risk of flooding to the town by improving the beach and defences on the main seafront and by reducing the rate of erosion along East Beach

Outline design for Sidmouth’s beach management scheme explained to members of steering group by council’s consultants Royal Haskoning DHV

The steering group for Sidmouth’s Beach Management Scheme has just received a progress update from East Devon District Council’s project team and its consultants Royal Haskoning DHV.

At a meeting on Thursday 15 March 2018, the steering group were briefed about the work undertaken over the past two months to develop the outline design for Sidmouth’s Beach Management Scheme, which aims to reduce the risk of flooding to the town both by improving the beach and defences on the main seafront and by reducing the rate of erosion along East Beach.

Royal HaskoningDHV showed how for the main Sidmouth Beach, they’d been using the computer models developed as part of the first phase of the project to test different beach profiles to see what height and width of beach is most effective in reducing waves overtopping the esplanade. The more detailed computer modelling now underway seems to be indicating that a modest increase in height of the existing splashwall along the seafront may be helpful in reducing flood risk to the town.

The council’s consultants have also been testing different numbers, lengths and positions of groynes on East Beach, using computer models that simulate shingle movement, as well as by using real life examples of shingle behaving in similar situations nearby. The aim here is to use groynes to hold a beach in front of the cliffs, which would be of a similar height to the beach behind the breakwaters at the Western end of Sidmouth Beach. 

The steering group was shown an image taken from offshore in August 2007, which shows the kind of healthy beach the project aims to hold in front of East Beach, although this will obviously be subject to some fluctuation during the year, as the beach moves within the confines of the groynes in response to differing storm directions.

A brief update on the Environmental Impact Assessment was also provided and the formal Scoping Opinion, which is being produced jointly by the Local Planning Authority and Marine Management Organisation is expected shortly. This document will confirm the extent of the Environmental Impact Assessment required for the scheme.

The group also discussed some of the images, diagrams and subject areas, which should be presented at a public exhibition on the afternoon of 19 April at Kennaway House, Sidmouth. The steering group members were particularly keen that the flood extents are presented, to help local people understand that the aim of the project is primarily to reduce the risk of flooding to Sidmouth. Royal HaskoningDHV has invited the steering group to be present at the public exhibition, to explain the project aims and their role in getting the project to this point.

East Devon District Council gave an update on partnership funding, which has included positive discussions continuing with South West Water, Devon County Council and a number of other potential sources of funding. Several steering group members have provided good feedback on the draft letters prepared by the council, which will be sent to residents and businesses at risk. The comments will be considered and incorporated as appropriate, before the letters are issued at a later date in the project, when there is greater certainty over the remaining funding shortfall.

Cllr Tom Wright, East Devon’s portfolio holder for the Environment who is now chair of the steering group meeting, said:

”Excellent progress is being made to deliver a scheme to reduce the risk of flooding to Sidmouth, and I was really pleased to see the support for the work from both the local community and statutory bodies on the project steering group.”

Alexander Lee, Royal HaskoningDHV Project Manager, said:

“Modelling work is progressing well and it has been useful to discuss our findings with the Steering Group as we go along. We are now looking forward to having the opportunity to share our work with the stakeholder community in the forthcoming public exhibition.”