The vital steps needed to protect Exmouth’s beach from coastal erosion were discussed at the first meeting of the town’s new beach management plan steering group.
Following a briefing during the summer, the group made up of local beach users, organisations and district and county councillors, met to formalise their aims and objectives.
Although overall sand volumes on Exmouth Beach remain constant, there have been dramatic changes with some areas losing considerable amounts while other areas are gaining sand.
This has led to old structures being exposed – such as beach hut timber foundations, old jetties, former groynes, and metal pipes, which would have led to safety issues if East Devon District Council (EDDC) had not been able to remove them swiftly
The existing Beach Management Plan (BMP) needs to be updated, and it is important that EDDC understands Exmouth residents’ views, their local knowledge and how they envisage the beach plan should be managed in the future.
The BMP is a document to outline what actions can be taken to help manage the beach going forward. It may go on to suggest physical measures such as additional groynes, for which further funding would be required. The BMP would also look at the cost of any proposed measures and the feasibility of EDDC being able to secure outside funding for these measures.
Government funding for flood and coastal protection schemes are only available to protect homes and properties at risk. Therefore, Exmouth Beach is unlikely to benefit from any substantial government funding, thus most of the scheme is likely to need funding from alternative sources.
During the first meeting Councillor Paul Millar was chosen to be the group’s chair and a ‘terms of reference’ including their scope and aims was agreed by the group.
The next step is to agree on how far reaching the study should be, and what outcomes are required. Therefore, the group will need to appoint consultants to further investigate the causes and any potential remedies to return the appropriate beach levels to protect the shoreside properties, the sea wall, car parks, and the road. Most importantly this will be to the benefit and additional beach safety to the many users of this very popular beach.
Cllr Millar said:
I am delighted to be chairing the work of this vital steering group which unites the expertise of our council’s engineers, the Environment Agency and relevant local stakeholders such as the RNLI, to urgently address issues caused by storms, floods and cliff erosion.
This is major and urgent project in which the end goal is to better protect and enhance the jewel in Exmouth’s crown. Around the lifeboat station, we have pipes sticking out the ground and putting the safety of our residents and visitors at risk.
Our work starts immediately with our priority to work with the RNLI to repair the sea walls and extend the ramp, so it reaches the sea. Our biggest challenge will be securing external funding for managing the physical nature of the beach.”
EDDC Portfolio holder for coast country and environment, Cllr Geoff Jung added:
I’m delighted that Cllr Millar, is chairing the steering group. Everyone who knows Exmouth beach is concerned at the recent changes to both the Estuary and the beach, and we need to first understand why these changes are happening and then to formulate a plan to return the beach levels for the benefit of holiday makers and local people as best we can, but aware of the impact of climate change and sea level rise as well as the limited funding available, this is going to be a challenging project.