Aerial view of Exmouth's sea wall

From January 2024, for approximately two months, engineers will fully secure the sections of Exmouth’s seawall damaged by recent storms.

Although it may appear quiet on site, the new wall is being designed, and contractors will carry out trial holes and investigate the state of the current wall in the week commencing 11 December. East Devon District Council (EDDC) aims to refine the sea defence’s design and apply for grants from external organisations to bring down the forecast cost from £1.1million.

A steel sheet pile wall will be installed through the ground and the wall. This approach allows EDDC to fix the seawall as quickly as possible, despite winter weather conditions. The timing is preferable to minimise disruption, as the neighbouring section of the beach will close temporarily during repair work. The steel sheet pile wall will remain unclad during the summer, with a consultation on the appearance of the cladding planned, and this cosmetic work is expected to begin in autumn 2024.

To keep the public safe, before and during the construction work, the footpath and cycleway will remain at a reduced width. Sections of Queens Drive carpark will be closed to provide storage and facilities to the contractors.

Storm Babet damaged 90 metres of the seawall, with the beach dropping below the foundations, causing the wall to fall forwards and crack. EDDC mobilised contractors within hours of the reported damage, with emergency temporary measures taken in the days before Storm Ciaran, to prevent a worsened situation and flooding to the wider area behind the wall. Contractors built a temporary barrier of thousands of tonnes of compacted sand, wrapped in geotextile, placed in front of the wall, held down with large concrete blocks.

The temporary barrier successfully absorbed the energy of the waves, preventing further collapse. Following the storm, contractors raised sand levels by the seawall and put additional concrete blocks in place.

Councillor Geoff Jung - Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment 24.05.2023 (Credit EDDC and Kyle Baker Photography)

Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC’s Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country, and Environment, said:

“Thankfully due to the work of our engineers and contractors reacting so quickly to the initial reporting of the damaged sea wall, which prevented a potential much more serious breach and damage to facilities and property along the seafront, we have been able to keep the beachfront open but for a small, restricted section close to Sideshow.”

“These further works will protect the beachfront facilities and properties for next summer and provide a permanent solid structure base to clad an appropriate facing for the following year”.