Tuesday, 16 June 2015

"Will the Sidmouth Beach Garden be trashed to make room for beach huts?"

There has been a lot of controversy over proposals from the District Council for its beach huts:
Futures Forum: Proposals for new Sidmouth beach huts are an "improvement programme" or "a money-grabbing move that will ruin the view"

The Herald has provided a mock-up of what new huts might look like on the Sidmouth beach:

Proposals for beach huts ‘threaten a way of life’ - News - Sidmouth Herald

The only problem is that these would be sited on what is now Sidmouth's beach garden, opened over two years ago:
Futures Forum: Biodiversity in Sidmouth: Beach Garden

Inauguration of the Sidmouth Beach Garden

Beach Garden Opening
Sidmouth Beach Garden was officially launched by Anne Swithinbank.

About a dozen stalwarts gathered at the site of the new beach garden in a bitter easterly wind and driving rain at 11am on 22nd March, to see Anne Swithinbank open the garden.

Lynette Talbot (Sidmouth in Bloom) said a few words about the origin of the garden, and John Twibell (Devon Plant Heritage) on the origins of the plants being planted from native Devon material. Anne commented how wonderful it was that different organisations in the town could pull together to get projects like this going and what a great source of educational material they would be. She then declared the garden open by planting a few specimen beach plants, and by pouring champagne on the part-buried boat which is a feature of the garden.

Vision Group for Sidmouth - Inauguration of Sidmouth Beach Garden

In response to these fears, a letter appeared in the Herald from John Twibell of Devon Plant Heritage. This has been printed with permission of the author:

Letter to Sidmouth Herald  8 June 2015

Dear Sirs,

I hope that your readers will join me in protesting  at the proposal to place Beach Huts along the town side of the Millennium Walkway. I presume that these huts would be laid over, or very much interfere with the “Beach Garden” area. This area and its display board may not look much to many people but it is the location where for the past three years or so volunteers from Sidmouth in Bloom and Devon Plant Heritage, with major help and cooperation from EDDC Streetscene, have been establishing a reserve that safeguards and displays local beach plants. This is intended as an educational resource for local schools and visitors to show and conserve the types of native plants that cling on in the coastal fringe. By their very nature the coastal habitats of saltmarsh, sand dune and shingle are fragile environments that can be washed away by storms or built over by man.

Older people tell me that they can recall that the sea pea used to be abundant on shingle beaches in East Devon. Now one has to go to Chesil Bank to see any of it. Sea Holly  still clings on in the dune at Exmouth, but is in decline. I have not seen the sea wormwood anywhere in east Devon saltmarshes. These are amongst a number of plant species that we are establishing, from near as possible local origin, ready to plant in the Beach Garden area. With a minimum of volunteer effort we will be able to establish plants from all three habitats in the small area.

The Beach Garden survived the severe storms of last year which removed shingle from only one corner of the site. Is it now to be trashed to make room for beach huts?

Yours faithfully,

Dr John Twibell,
Chairman, Devon Plant Heritage

Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

No comments: