The dotted line on this photo of Sidmouth's seafront shows how high the raised splash wall could be - the council wants to hear ideas from people as to how the splash wall could be enhanced

Council’s project team and consultants had a busy afternoon discussing scheme’s outline design to prevent coastal flooding and erosion

East Devon District Council and Royal HaskoningDHV’s public exhibition for the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Scheme, which took place on Thursday 19 April 2018, generated a high level of interest among the local community, as well as visitors.

Over 150 people attended the event at Kennaway House in Sidmouth to view information about the scheme, ask questions and to provide feedback on the investigations, computer modelling and outline design for Sidmouth Beach Management Scheme presented by East Devon and their consultants Royal HaskoningDHV.

The scheme consists of adding a new rock groyne on East Beach, importing new shingle onto Sidmouth Beach, and East Beach, and raising the existing splash wall along the rear of Sidmouth promenade by 500mm (approximately 19 inches). The scheme’s aim is to maintain the 1990's Sidmouth Coastal Defence Scheme Standard of Service, as well as to reduce the rate of beach and cliff erosion to the east of the River Sid (East Beach) in an integrated, justifiable and sustainable way.

Visitors to the exhibition were shown the flood risk to over 100 residential properties in low lying areas behind the seafront from waves overtopping the promenade. That flood risk is increased in the future as the cliffs to the East of the town recede and the eastern side of Sidmouth becomes exposed to coastal conditions.

By importing new shingle onto Sidmouth Beach and raising the existing splash wall, the amount of water overtopping the promenade can be captured, preventing the water flooding low lying areas in the town centre. On East Beach, by using the new groyne to hold a larger shingle beach, wave action against the toe of the cliffs can be reduced. The scheme presented by Royal HaskoningDHV is a result of extensive testing of groynes, beach profiles and splash wall heights using computer simulations of waves and shingle which have been validated against records and observed beach behaviour to provide the necessary assurance to the Environment Agency for funding approval.

People were asked for their ideas on how the existing splash wall could be enhanced as part of the works required to reduce the risk of flooding to the town.

It was explained as part of the exhibition that around £5.7million of funding for the scheme is likely to be available from DEFRA, with the remaining £3.3million known as partnership funding will need to come from other sources. Positive discussions to help fill that gap have been held with other bodies, such as Devon County Council, and South West Water, who will benefit from the scheme. That amount may also need to be topped up with smaller local contributions from residents and businesses whose protection from flood and erosion will be improved as a result of the scheme.

The exhibition material can be viewed on East Devon’s website http://eastdevon.gov.uk/coastal-protection/schemes-and-projects/sidmouth-and-east-beach-management-scheme/april-2018-public-consultation   - and comments can be sent to the council up until 3 May 2018.

Cllr Tom Wright, East Devon’s portfolio holder for the environment and chair of the scheme’s steering group, said:

We had a really positive reaction to the exhibition material and the hard work which has gone into it, and I was pleased to see so many people coming to learn first-hand about our plans to protect the lovely town centre from the threat of flooding.

Alice Johnson, Coastal Engineer for Royal HaskoningDHV, said:

It was great to have the opportunity to share this update on the Sidmouth and East Beach BMP with the community. We found the event extremely useful and thank all those who attended for their insightful questions and contributions which we will seek to build in to our continuing work.