Friday 17 May 2013

Pennington Point

The issue of 'what to do with the cliffs' has been rumbling on for years.
The latest episode follows a meeting last month:

Crumbling cliffs: Consultant to be appointed
The crumbling cliffs at Pennington Point at Sidmouth as seen in April 2013. Picture by Terry Ife. Ref shs 1108-16-13TI
The crumbling cliffs at Pennington Point at Sidmouth as seen in April 2013. Picture by Terry Ife. 
Stefan Gordon Wednesday, April 24, 2013
A CONSULTANT is on the verge of being signed up to produce a blueprint that will determine how best to manage Sidmouth beach – and tackle crumbling Pennington Point – over the next decade.
It is estimated the document will take a year to put together, but the scheme is still thousands of pounds short of the funding needed.
The Sidmouth Beaches Working Group, convened by East Devon District Council (EDDC), met on Monday and agreed to appoint a consultant to handle the Beach Management Plan (BMP).
The technical group, made up of representatives from EDDC, the Environment Agency (EA), Devon County Council, Natural England and a resident, has produced a brief for the plan - which has been used to invite tenders from consultants.
“Funding for this BMP work – which is expected to cost £80,000 in total still needs to be found, with £27,000 so far committed by EDDC and a similar figure from the EA,” said an EDDC spokesman.
“Other sources of funding are being investigated.”

But this process had been set up a year before:

Technical group to tackle coastal erosion
Cliff erosion
Cliff erosion

Sarah Collings, Reporter Thursday, May 3, 2012

A TECHNICAL group has been set up to tackle coastal erosion at Pennington Point after a working party met on Monday.
Officers from the district and county councils and the Environment Agency will report back to the group at the end of June to come up with recommendations for a beach management plan, said Councillor Stuart Hughes.
He said the district council will continue to seek out other partners to contribute towards the plan.
This plan is set to cost in the region of £80,000 to produce and will cover the beaches at both Sidmouth and Salcombe.
Cllr Hughes said: “May I assure every-one, whether local or visitors, that Devon County Council will continue to maintain the Alma bridge as long as it is viable to do so.
“Let’s hope it’s not too long before a scheme can be agreed and implemented that will protect this important asset for the next 50 to 100 years.
“Someone at the meeting suggested closing the beach. However, I think that this should be avoided at all costs.”

And Sidmouth Town Council seems to be prepared to invest in such an enterprise:

SIDMOUTH: Increase in precept to fund special projects

30th April 2013
by Laura Goldsbury-Noy
Sidmouth Town Council has increased its annual precept for 2013/2014 by more than £50,000 as they prepare for a possible squeeze on local government.
“The potential special projects include the possibility of taking over the Manor Pavilion, a beach management plan to protect and improve the area at Pennington Point and the possibility of contributing to a project allowing Sidmouth to be part of a Jurassic Coastal transport link.”

Although it's been suggested that the cash might come from a developer:

Gains for town
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Sidmouth has an opportunity to save the cliffs at Pennington point, redevelop the Drill Hall and create somewhere for the Jurassic boat trips to visit Sidmouth and have a small development on reclaimed land with somewhere for the gig boat to use all the year round.
How about building a marina using steel caissons in a curve out to sea as used in Brighton, but on a smaller scale, and have an area for visiting leisure boats and a better area for fishing boats.
The lifeboat would have easier access to the sea and, on reclaimed land, build restaurants and shops with an extension from the promenade to give good views of the coast.
This will cost money but with a developer on board and a little imagination this could happen.
All we see now is a coastline slowly moving inland and an unused foreshore full of fallen rocks and soil which is a mess.
What would Sidmouth gain?
More employment and more visitors, especially the boating community with their deep pockets.
Geoffrey Odell

Sidmouth's MP has taken an interest of late too:

MP Swire calls for action at Pennington Point
Local MP Hugo Swire with Stuart Hughes at Pennington Point to discuss the future of Sidmouth's cliffs. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 6333-01-13TI To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24
Local MP Hugo Swire with Stuart Hughes at Pennington Point to discuss the future of Sidmouth's cliffs. Photo by Terry Ife 
Stefan Gordon Monday, January 21, 2013

EAST Devon MP Hugo Swire has added to calls for urgent measures to be taken to safeguard Sidmouth’s beleaguered eastern cliffs.
Mr Swire expressed flooding fears for the town when he visited Pennington Point last Friday and said: “The time for deliberation is behind us and the time for action is now.”
He added that the state of the crumbling stretch of coastline, currently a tourist attraction in its own right, was the worst he had known. The MP added a future regeneration of Port Royal could be jeopardised as would-be developers would not be interested in the site if the risk it faces remains in place.
He said action was needed on two fronts - with a rock revetment to protect Alma Bridge and what remains of Pennington Point in the short-term.
Mr Swire added that a long-term solution for rapid erosion of cliffs running to Weston Mouth, which will be addressed in a beach management plan, should be fast-tracked. He added that current talks were “taking too long”.
“We now need to get on with it,” said Mr Swire. “It may not please everybody, but the time for deliberation is behind us and the time for action is now.”
Mr Swire said the issue had been discussed for as long as he’s been an MP – more than a decade – and been getting progressively worse.
“I’ve never seen it as bad as this – it is now a very different issue,” he added.
Mr Swire said he sympathised with householders whose gardens were disappearing and who struggled to get insurance.
“A beach management plan needs to come out as soon as possible and we need to act on that,” he said. “There is no excuse for further delay. If the district council is serious about this site then no developer is going to commit to anything here when you have this issue.”

The MP described the situation of rapid erosion of the cliffs in Sidmouth as a "nightmare" and backed the call by Cllr Stuart Hughes who is the chairman of Sidmouth Town Council as well as a county and district councillor and Devon's lead member for flooding, for urgent consideration. As previously reported by the Echo, many residents who live on Cliff Road have lost several metres of their gardens over the last few years because of+ the erosion.
Following a meeting between a senior engineer from the district council and the Environment Agency, surveys on erosion at Pennington Point are due to be carried out this month ahead of the drawing up of a Beach Management Plan, estimated to cost £80,000, which would include options for tackling the problem.
"The cliff erosion at Pennington Point in Sidmouth is a nightmare and very worrying issue and one that needs to be carefully looked at, not least because of the threat to the town," Mr Swire said. "I've been to speak to some of the home owners who are watching their gardens disappear. One option is to put rock groynes at the base of the cliffs but careful consideration needs to be done."

It's a matter of opinion as to where the blame for cliff erosion lies - and therefore what are the priorities for action to be taken:

Dredged river gravel to protect Pennington Point
A huge cliff fall, described as the bigest in recent times, is observed by memebers of the public at Pennington Point. Photo by Eve Mathews.
A huge cliff fall, described as the bigest in recent times, is observed by memebers of the public at Pennington Point. Photo by Eve Mathews.
Stefan Gordon Monday, December 10, 2012
HUNDREDS of tonnes of gravel were brought to Sidmouth beach on Thursday in a bid to protect its crumbling eastern coastline – but won’t be put in place at Pennington Point for weeks.
Material dredged from the River Sid was hauled to a seafront slipway opposite the fisherman’s area.
The move follows a sixth landslide in the space of a week – described as one of the biggest in recent times.
A site inspection by representatives from the district and county councils and Environment Agency (EA) took place on Tuesday.
The EA is currently removing river gravel from the Sid following the recent floods - around 500 tonnes.
However, the district council says it cannot be transferred from the seafront across to Pennington Point until the new year, as a specialist piece of machinery needed to do the job isn’t available until January.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, who had called for the move, said yesterday he was prepared to make £5,000 available from his county Investing in Devon fund towards any eventual rock armouring scheme along the stretch.
“The river gravel will also do some good in this location,” said Cllr Hughes.
He likened the decimated red sandstone to a ‘Martian landscape’.
Councillor Phil Twiss, the district council’s deputy cabinet member for environment, said the latest fall was another example of material falling down from the cliff-top - caused by erosion from above and not by wave action from below.
“Given the heavy falls of rain in recent months, this event was entirely predictable and there is little that can be done to prevent this and other future falls when there is further penetration of water from above,” he said.
EDDC is heading up a task force looking into longer-term measures to protect the foot of the cliffs.
The Herald understands the inspection this week found wave undercutting occurring in certain areas - which is adding to the problem of rain induced ‘slumping’ from the top of the cliffs.
Cllr Hughes said last week that it’s ‘only a matter of time’ before the last protective piece of Pennington Point is lost – which could leave the eastern town in danger of tidal flooding.

But meanwhile, people are losing their homes and gardens. This appeared in the Daily Mail earlier this year:

Dozen homes worth £500,000 each on the brink of collapsing into the sea after appalling weather speeds up cliff erosion

Land owned by John Radford, 62, for 45 years eroded by 15 metres in weeks
He and his wife feel 'trapped' because dangerous houses are 'unsellable'
Swept away: Wet weather has caused the garden belonging to John Radford to crumble rapidly over six weeks
Swept away: Wet weather has caused the garden belonging to John Radford to crumble rapidly over six weeks

By EMILY DAVIES 18 February 2013 

It could be Britain's most expensive property collapse with over £6 million worth of cliff top houses creeping towards destruction after of one of the wettest years on record.
Residents who thought they had decades left in the 12 properties affected in Sidmouth, Devon, fear the crumbling coastline could give way imminently.
John Radford, 62, who has owned 1 Cliff Road in the resort for 45 years is the street's longest-standing resident.
On the brink: Houses in Sidmouth are at risk after bad weather caused 15 metres of cliff to crumble away
On the brink: Houses in Sidmouth are at risk after bad weather caused 15 metres of cliff to crumble away
He says a pair of massive landslips in the space of a few weeks decimated around 15 metres of his garden - and that more major falls are inevitable.
Sidmouth is part of the UNESCO Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, which is important for its sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks.
But the landslides which have hit the cliffs there look set to take an expensive toll.
Mr Radford said: 'The houses here are unsellable and unmortgageable. The people living in them are trapped. Insurance doesn't cover erosion.'
A scheme to remedy Sidmouth's receding eastern coastline looks to be two years from becoming a reality.
Wet weather at the end of last year led to several major cliff falls that saw residents rename a cliff feature called Pennington Point as Pennington Cove because so much of it fell away.
Retired solicitor Mr Radford said: 'Before the disaster of November I was reasonably sanguine and thought we'd get another 20 to 25 years.
Cliff erosion at Sidmouth, Devon, makes the area very dangerous and £6million worth of houses could fall down
Cliff erosion at Sidmouth, Devon, makes the area very dangerous and £6million worth of houses could fall down
'We could be out in three. The amount of garden we lost in the course of six weeks was more than in 12 years.
'They were catastrophic and certainly the two biggest falls I've ever seen. The difference between the end of November and a year before is absolutely astonishing.
'We are very lucky to be second home owners. I feel dreadfully sorry for people in the road, who are older than me, who are not.
'I'm worried about my property but I'm equally concerned about Alma Bridge and the town. We're getting to the stage where banks of the River Sid will be exposed and that stands between Sidmouth and flooding.
'It could be 24 months before we get a scheme. So much will have been lost by then.'
Paul Griew, leader of the Cliff Road Action Group, said November's landslips had been disastrous. He said other residents in the street expected to lose their properties within around 20 years.
'Talks are going at half the speed that one would like, while the cliff erosion is accelerating,' he said.

Residents put in planning application two years ago, but it was later withdrawn:

Sidmouth residents' plan to save cliff homes from sea
19 April 2011 
 A Sidmouth garden affected by erosion
The action group claims some homes could fall into the sea within 15 years

Residents of a Devon street who fear their homes could fall into the sea are calling for a £900,000 publicly-funded coastal protection scheme.
Twelve homes on Cliff Road, Sidmouth, are said to be losing land at up to 4m (13ft) a year because of erosion.
They are now submitting a planning application with East Devon District Council (EDDC) to tackle the problem.
The council said it would consider the application for a 210m-long granite retaining wall "on its merits".
The Cliff Road residents are concerned about rate of erosion to Sidmouth's East Cliff and Pennington Point, which they calculate could mean the first of their homes being claimed by the sea within 15 years.
Their planning application proposes building the 5m-high granite revetment running along the base of the cliff.
Members of the residents' action group, who hope the scheme would be publicly funded, said this would protect their homes and a local tourist footpath which is now just 8m (26ft) from the cliff edge.
Flood protection
It would also include measures to protect central Sidmouth from possible flooding caused by the erosion of some of the town's natural sea defences.
Paul Griew, from the Cliff Road action group, said: "It's all too easy to ignore these issues until they affect you personally and directly, but that can be too late.
"Everyone who lives in beautiful Sidmouth - and thousands of summer visitors too - benefits from the beaches and the cliff walks and assumes the town is safe from flooding.
"But unless action is taken to protect the East Cliff, nothing can be taken for granted."
East Devon District Council said: "There is a long history of attempts by EDDC to ensure that, whatever else happens, no sea-flooding of the town of Sidmouth can occur.
"A scheme of some kind might be possible here but it will be subject to many checks and balances before it could go ahead.
"There is a tension between coastal protection and allowing natural processes of erosion, and there are strong lobbies for both approaches."
The council said the scheme would have to be agreed by Natural England and the Environment Agency and would also need Defra funding.

Related Stories

And it's been going on for years. This BBC report is from 2008:

No comments: