Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Recharging Sidmouth's beaches: underway... but not enough for East Beach

Much promise was made about the effect of moving shingle on Sidmouth's beaches:
Futures Forum: Recharging Sidmouth's beaches

It's been considered a 'good thing':

Shingle recycling is common practice across the UK and has been identified as an effective method of maintaining coastal protection, while allowing natural processes to continue.

Shingle beaches take the energy and force out of waves, helping protect the sea wall and minimizing shingle and wave overtopping, which can cause not only damage to residential and commercial properties in Sidmouth, but also flooding within the town centre itself.

Work commences on shingle recycling project at Sidmouth main beach (From Mid Devon Star)

It is clear that 'something needs to be done' - the question is what and how and where:

For the next six to eight weeks, Sidmouth's beaches will be a hive of activity. Work is being carried out to move large loads of shingle that's gathered on the west beach back to the east beach. East Devon District Council's secured £100,000 for this work from the Environment Agency.

But it's this very work residents who live on Cliff Road above East Beach say has robbed the beach, directly below their homes, of around five metres of protective shingle. Paul Griew says when he bought his house in 1997, the rate of erosion was around 10cm a year. Since the creation of groynes, that's gone up to around a metre a year.

"The problem is that the sea is undercutting the cliff all the time and it's eventually collapsing. What I want to see happen is something at the base of the cliff - shingle would be absolutely fine - held there so that it doesn't move." – PAUL GRIEW, CLIFF ROAD ACTION GROUP

Paul says this isn't just about his home but with the cliff face eroding at this rate, the protection it offers the town from prevailing conditions is, he says being compromised and Sidmouth itself could be at a greater risk of flooding.

Work begins on repairing Sidmouth's sea defences | West Country (W) - ITV News

In fact, more and more concerns about the effectiveness of the shifting of shingle have been voiced:

Shingle restoration work starts - but will it last?

17:05 12 January 2015 Stephen Sumner

Start of the work to restore the shingle on Sidmouth beach. Ref shs 0666-02-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Six weeks of work to restore shingle to Sidmouth’s depleted main beach began on Monday in the face of claims that sea movements could soon undo the effort.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) hopes adding a ‘winter blanket’ of pebbles will protect the town before the onset of any winter storms and restore the beach to its autumn 2013 profile.

But the project – funded by up to £100,000 of government cash – has been slammed as a short-term fix and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Writing on Facebook, Anne Bishop said: “Considering how easily the shingle seems to move every time we have a rough high tide – and remembering that the last load of shingle disappeared overnight from Port Royal – I do wonder if this is all a waste of time and money.”

Thousands of tonnes of shingle are being shifted eastwards from where it has collected on the west beach, although there is not the surplus needed to shore up the east beach.

Jud Lascelles said: “Reinstate the wooden groynes and set aside some budget to maintain them. They weren’t put there for fun by our ancestors; they served a very important purpose.”

Kym White agreed that the railway sleepers should be returned, but Pully Poolman said even they are ‘no match’ for the weather we are experiencing.

Councillor Andrew Moulding said EDDC could not miss out on the Environment Agency emergency funding while it waits for the beach management plan. The council is due to meet with its steering group on the plan in February, and it promises wider public engagement in June.

Shingle restoration work starts - but will it last? - News - Sidmouth Herald
VIDEO-Moving beach - Home - Sidmouth Herald
Sidmouth shingle restoration to start Monday - News - Sidmouth Herald

See also:
The shingle beach at Sidmouth's western... (C) David Smith :: Geograph Britain and Ireland

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