Sunday 9 February 2014

Sidmouth Beach Management Plan Steering Group - background

On Tuesday 6th February, the Sidmouth BMP Steering Group met up for the first time:
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan for Sidmouth

Several groups were asked to take part, including the SVA, the VGS and the Chamber:
Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce - News
Vision Group for Sidmouth - Futures Forum meets

Several presentations were given, outlining the story so far, based on the substantial background paper which participants had been provided with.
Available here:
Sidmouth & East Beach Management Plan - Community Briefing Note (January 2014)

There is quite a history of commitment to a Beach Management Plan for Sidmouth:

The current phase in the story can be divided into two parts, both with reports from late 2011:
- the Dorset and East Devon Jurassic Coast Coastal Change Pathfinder Project; and
- the South Devon & Dorset Shoreline Management Plan Review (SMP2)


A primary aim of the Jurassic Coast Pathfinder Project was to help
communities better understand coastal change and how it could impact on the
coast in their local area. One of the means by which the project sought to
address this aim was through the production and presentation of computer
generated visualisations to illustrate how the coast at each of the six project
case study communities might evolve over the next 100 years.

Jurassic Coast Pathfinder Project - Coastal Change Visualisations
Jurassic Coast Coastal Pathfinder - Devon Maritime Forum

The Jurassic Coast Pathfinder project was launched in December 2009 as one of 15 projects nationwide designed to better engage communities in the process of planning to adapt to coastal erosion.
A priority aim of the project is to “encourage coastal communities to actively and meaningfully participate in the decision making process regarding coastal change.”

Sidmouth coast event sparks debate - News - Sidmouth Herald



The community

Sidmouth is an historically important seaside town, which was once an important fishing port for the South Coast of Devon. It has a world renowned Folk Festival that has been running since 1955, but today is a popular centre for tourism. It is now characterised by the famous promenade along the seafront which is lined with Victorian and Georgian buildings. The River Sid enters the sea at the eastern end of town, with Alma Bridge providing the main access from the main town to Pennington Point.
Coastal defences

The town is currently defended by a range of coastal defences, including rock groynes, offshore rock breakwaters and a seawall extending the length of the esplanade. These protect seafront buildings from erosion and direct wave damage as well as low-lying areas in the town centre from flooding. There are no existing coastal defences protecting Pennington Point.
Draft Shoreline Management Plan 2: Policy and Implications

The long term policy (for the next 100 years) is to ‘Hold The Line' for the main town of Sidmouth along the fronting esplanade and beach. This means the existing coastal defences will be maintained and the risk of flooding to Sidmouth town is controlled for at least 100 years.

The mouth of the River Sid and cliff top of Pennington Point will be subject to ‘Managed Realignment'. There are currently minimal defences at the mouth of the River Sid but coastal flooding and sea level rise will impact on the footbridge and river mouth area.

Click here to find out more about the Shoreline Management Plan.

The issues

Sidmouth's economy relies heavily on the tourist industry, with events such as the annual Folk Festival drawing visitors to the town. There are currently plans to explore possible locations for further visitor parking and visitor facilities. As a result, maintenance of coastal defences along the sea front is seen as vital to the economy.

Sidmouth is a Gateway town to the Jurassic Coast. To find out more information click here.

Sidmouth - Jurassic Coast

In November 2011 the District Council's planning committee addressed the issue:

The draft Shoreline Management Plan 2, recommends that in the short, medium and long term (100 years) a policy of "hold the line" is adopted for Sidmouth seafront west of the River Sid to the Chit Rocks. For the River Sid and East Sidmouth the Shoreline Management Plan 2 recommends “managed realignment” through beach management from the present day through to the long term. 


There were also references made in the draft Local Plan:

All of which was reported in the press and at a Vision Group meeting:

Sidmouth campaigners welcome cliff erosion solution vow

Development management committee members conceded that offshore rock islands have accelerated erosion of Sidmouth’s eastern cliffs.

“I have massive sympathy for the plight of residents in Cliff Road, which appears to have been caused by man-made intervention,” said Councillor Phil Twiss. “I feel guilty there’s a significant risk we generated the problem,” added Cllr Ben Ingham.

“For the umpteenth time we say deal with it, and deal with it properly,” said Richard Eley, chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce. “Please just get on with it.” He said council meetings on a cliff erosion solution over the years had been a “chronic waste of public money”.


In February 2012 the District Council's cabinet examined the on-going process:

Flooding risk to Sidmouth through the effects of Coastal erosion at Pennington Point/Salcombe Hill Cliff

The Head of Economy explained that a working party had been set up to address flooding and coastal erosion issues in Sidmouth. The working party included representatives from the Environment Agency, Natural England, the National Trust, Devon County Council, local EDDC members, Town Councillors, SAFE, VISION, local residents and the Chamber of Commerce. It had assessed the current situation at Pennington Point/Salcombe Hill Cliff and sought an agreed way forward to tackle the cliff erosion and flooding risk. The key recommendation was for a Beach Management Plan to be put in place as soon as possible. This would give a clear assessment of the issues involved, the options necessary to protect the beach and the town and could be used to support Defra funding bids. 

The Plan would give an analysis of the beach including management, definition of the areas included in the scope and its relationship with other relevant plans including the Shoreline Management Plan 2. It would give a 100 year outlook for the beach and a 10 year programme of maintenance work and possible new works to the sea walls, shingle beach and surrounding structures. 


In January last year Sidmouth's County Councillor gave mention within the context of dealing with Alma Bridge:

The County Council's Bridge team are still looking at options to provide a single bridge spanning the Sid possibly using the bridge retrieved from the Gem site. Although costs are still being finalised it is likely to be extremely expensive to provide a new bridge. No budget has yet been identified for this work or priority set, and it would be important first to understand what progress is being made in providing protection to the coastal path and cliffs at Pennington Point before committing to spending a significant amount of money and I don't believe we can wait two years for a Beach Management Scheme to be agreed. Currently whilst not pleasing to the eye the scaffold bridge in place provides a safe crossing of the river for pedestrians.

And in December last year matters moved forward:

No comments: