Friday, 23 October 2015

Sidmouth Beach Management Plan @ Streetlife

Following on from last week's piece on this blog:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Beach Management Plan: finalising the reports

... and this piece too:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Beach Management Plan: an 'insight into the workings of EDDC'

... there has been quite a lot of comment on Streetlife:

What's going on with Sidmouth's beach management plan?

    Stuart H
    I'm now on the group as County Cabinet member as flooding and bridges are within my portfolio and am support to our officers.
    Also once the scheme has been agreed ... It will then have to compete for funding and as lead member for Devon on the South West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee I shall be pushing the case for funding to be made available.... This could however be at least 2 years away!
    Devon are going to carry out their own surveys to see if we can establish the erosion rate ... We are however committed to providing a replacement for Alma bridge.
    Stuart H
    Having now read the very unhelpful blog of Cathy Gardner in which she unfairly criticises the dedicated professional County bridge engineers...I say this:-
    DCC’s original intention was to replace the bridge in it’s current position and funding was made available to do so. However due the environmental status of this sensitive site preventing any protection works being permitted means it is not possible for DCC to undertake the bridge replacement at its current location. Had DCC continued with its original plan we would now be facing the loss of new bridge in a very short time period.

    The rapid erosion of Pennington Point that has been witnessed in recent years has required DCC to seek alternative options. DCC is working on an Inland option, but it should be noted this will require significantly more investment due to the additional ramps structures that will be required. Clearly there is some ongoing debate over the accuracy of the cliff erosion rates. DCC needs to ascertain the lifespan of the new bridge which will be determined by the erosion rate. At the last Steering Group meeting DCC requested Halcrow to provide further consideration to the erosion rate, particularly at the locality of Pennington Point. DCC are also being proactive by undertaking it own surveys and monitoring of the cliff erosion.

    It has also become apparent the Environment Agency River Training walls upstream of the SWW pumping station will need to be upgraded to provide Coastal Defence. Cleary if DCC go ahead with any inland option it is likely the west bridge foundation will interfere with any planned upgrade of the wall. Hence DCC will be working with EDDC and the EA to determine a solution which will not result in abortive costly works to remove any new bridge to allow the wall to be upgraded.

    The current plan is to complete designs of the bridge during the next 18 months with works programmed to commence in 2017. This will be subject to further survey work to determine the rate of cliff erosion.
    Peter S
    Stuart H

    Good to here both sides of the story.
    Still waiting for the alternative individual view that was promised,from a comment I made on here some time ago.
    Pining Lass
    I didn't find the blog unhelpful and I didn't think there was criticism of the bridge engineers as Stuart claimed.

    She stated that progress was slow and there doesn't seem to be any urgency; I think most of us would agree that applies to other things within Sidmouth apart from the Beach Management Plan and the problem of the bridge!

    Perhaps it is just a communication problem but if we don't know that anything is being done we will obviously assume that the length of time it takes to deal with things shows a lack of urgency.

    I urge everyone to read the blog, click the blog tab on the link given already, and make up their own minds as to whether Stuart is taking the opportunity to misunderstand, or misrepresent, what is being said by an Independent Councillor; to her detriment.
    Stuart H
    I'm sorry but I disagree Pining Lass the paragraph in the blog

    ' There does not seem to be any urgency from DCC to start work on a long-term answer (probably with the bridge further inland than it is now). They seem to want to wait until the BMP process advances some more. '
    Is totally out of order ..... We Devon County Council wanted to have a bridge in place for next year however Natural England were and are the stumbling blocks putting the special designations such as SSSI , WHS and Coastal SAC as reasons why rock revetment can't be used to protect the Pennington Point area and give protection to a replacement bridge.....rock armour would slow the rate of erosion taking place by dissipating the wave action, however Natural England advise it would prevent further exposures.....I would therefore suggest that Cathy Gardner joins me in aiming her verbal accusations at Natural England instead of the County Council......it's interesting in reading the Herald this week that Branscombe have been given go ahead to use rock armour although still part of the WHS?
    Pining Lass
    As I said Stuart, if we don't know and nobody tells us then we make assumptions on the facts we know. It is a communication problem.
    Stuart H
    Then read the Sidmouth Herald Pining Lass ... I was on about Natural England's stance on this issue months ago..... I've even met our MP's to discuss this issue as NE are a govt body and seem to put fossils before local residents and our local economy.
    Stuart H
    There hasn't been anything to report until now because they have been shifting through various evidence received and trying to establish the exact rate of erosion... This has to be established and a scheme has to be agreed that will secure the funding ...As someone who has been banging on about this for at least 22 years I find this so frustrating as I know that rock revetment would go a long way to solving our problems....the issue is Natural England and their stance on designations..... All I ask is that ALL Sidmouth members work towards the same goal achieve in unity .....Onwards and upwards
    Old Fozzie
    As an off the wall idea, would it not be possible to build a solid harbour wall from a point a couple of hundred metres along the cliff turning then towards the existing one to create a harbour/marina which would
    a) stop the erosion
    b) create another attraction for he town
    c) make a new income stream
    d) open up the possibilities at the eastern end of town.
    Richard E
    Stuart is right to highlight the role of Natural England in obstructing the intervention that is clearly required at Pennington Point.   One of their reasons is that they are anxious to maintain the flow of fossils that erosion brings.

    I have repeatedly pointed out that any fossils that are emerging from Salcombe Cliffs are likely to be lost as (a) there is very little beach left on which they can be collected and (b) people are advised not to go on to the beach, so the fossils cannot be identified.

    Ironically, intervention would allow more fossils to be recovered.

    But the lack of progress is not just the fault of Natural England.   All parties involved should consider why we have spent more than ten years and about half a million pounds without anything to show for it.
    Stuart H
    The problem is Richard as you know the Government keep changing the goal posts..... At least I felt that at the meeting there was some light at the end of the tunnel and at the next meeting we should have a scheme that we can go out to consultation on......Once that's agreed it can then go forward for approval of funding and will find its way onto the EA South West Regional Coastal Committees 6 year plan..... As lead member for Devon I shall then be pushing for the scheme to be advanced up that wide ranging list of flood schemes that cover Cornwall, Plymouth, Torbay, Devon and the Isles of Scilly.
    Old Fozzie and others:
    As a matter of interest, I spoke about a reef to enclose a pool of water when I spoke at the AGM of the Vision Group for Sidmouth in 2009. My proposal included slow-moving turbines (fish-friendly and approved by English Nature), which and been designed by a specialist engineer in Cornwall. These would have been just an example of what could be achieved with such turbines in generating electricity. The main objective of the design was to demonstrate the possibilities for much larger river estuaries and the river Severn, whilst at the same time slowing down the erosion at Pennington Point. The bi-directional turbines only needed about 2 feet of water height to drive them.
    I wanted to apply to DEFRA for "Pathfinder" funding to investigate this further and needed DCC endorsement of the idea. Unfortunately the Officer in charge of coastal work (who is now retired), told me he "didn't have time to review my proposal"! This was despite the fact that, at that time, DCC had made no decision about whether they had a scheme of their own to put forward for funding. I put the application in anyway but it failed because it did not have sign-off from the local authority with responsibility for coastal work (i.e. either DCC or EDDC) . I was told by DEFRA that it was the most interesting and adventurous scheme they had received country-wide. Oh well - so much for private initiative! My feeling is that the culture in DCC at that time was that "if it wasn't thought of by them then they weren't interested in hearing about it".
    Right at the last moment of the applications for Pathfinder funding EDDC decided to piggy-back on a proposal from Dorset CC for their (successful) Pathfinder project. The aim of that project was to ensure that local people were fully aware of the facts about coastal erosion.
    So what Sidmouth ended up with was public money being spent, not on investigating a scheme to manage and take advantage of our river, cliffs and sea front, but on a scheme to make sure we are aware of what is happening under our noses!
    I did participate in the Dorset CC and EDDC Pathfinder project because VGS thought that if we weren't going to be able to slow the Pennington Point erosion down at all, then we really needed to understand the consequences of doing nothing.
    Loss of part of the footpath and of Alma Bridge failure are the first consequences of doing nothing.
    Unfortunately, none of the possible consequences will qualify for "emergency" Environment Agency funding because this situation has long been foreseen and EDDC/DCC should have had a plan and contingency budget for the consequences.
    I am hopeful that the current Beach Management Plan project will come up with a realistic and complete solution to the issues now facing Sidmouth. What I worry about is that the timescale for getting funding for design and then for construction is so long. If we have some dire consequence in the short term because of the increased erosion rate at Pennington Point - where is the contingency budget to handle that?
    Stuart H
    Yes aware of Jo's scheme and certainly interesting with merit however Devon County Council isn't and I repeat isn't the local authority responsible for coastal erosion .... That is the District Council....we DCC are however the lead local flood authority and so it's important to find a scheme that is going to protect Sidmouth for the next 50/100 years. It is good to see that South West Water have finally come to the table .... What we now need to do is look to the future and yes we can reflect on what has happened in the past because if rock armour similar to that which was placed at Clifton which didn't form part of the breakwater scheme had been replicated east of the Sid and which Consulting Geologist Dr Geoffrey Kellaway fought for .... Then we wouldn't be in the position we are in today.
    Richard E
    Old Fozzie et al,

    I agree that it is obvious that intervention is required:  it cannot take the form of a harbour, as such a proposal fails for a number of reasons, including tides, longshore drift, visual impact, cost and lack of landward capacity.   So I think that prospect has now been dismissed.   However, a jetty has none of these obstacles, and remains an attractive possibility, as part of a comprehensive package of improvements.

    A few years ago I was in contact with a company from Dorset that priced the necessary rock armouring at £100-130,000, roughly a quarter of the sums that have been spent thus far on talking shops, monitoring, etc.

    My main concern at the moment is that the proposal by EDDC to develop the Mill Street car park, has effectively scuppered any prospect of a redevelopment of Port Royal.   The loss of car park capacity will mean that any intensification of the use of Port Royal will be impossible in planning terms: the Ham and Roxburgh car parks are already regularly full.
    Stuart H
    Hopefully any speculation on Mill Street Car Park will be laid to rest and so we can concentrate on the bigger issues for Sidmouth and one of the various options being looked at is the idea of the jetty which would be of considerable benefit to our local economy.
    Hello All

    I have been reading back over this blog and I just wanted to put a couple of things into the discussion.

    Firstly, it is true that Natural England are opposed to rock armouring around Pennington Point because it is a site of special scientific interest. They always have been. However, they are statutory consultees in the planning process, not decision-makers. The planning decision rests with East Devon District Council Development Management Committee. If EDDC approves works that go against advice from NE, then NE may refer it to the Secretary of State, but again they may not. Obviously the DMC has to take account of what consultees say and their duty is to balance conflicting requirements and arrive at what they perceive as the best decision.

    Although NE is against any rock armouring around Pennington Point, their attitude is not an insuperable obstacle.
    Secondly, there have been two applications to place rock revetments around Pennington Point. One was by EDDC itself in 2003 and they withdrew it before it was considered by DMC. The other application was a privately-funded one by the Cliff Road Action Group in 2011 and this was also withdrawn.
    I was present at the DMC discussion of the second application. What happened was that the District Councillor, ex-Councillor Chris Wale, having promised the applicants his support, changed his position and spoke against approving the application at the DMC meeting. This was a surprise to the applicants. They then took the decision that, without Ward Member support, they were unlikely to succeed. They withdrew the application because they did not wish the record to contain a refusal of a rock revetment, in case it set a precedent for future applications.

    My personal opinion is that it is our duty to do work to slow down the PP erosion (especially if the erosion has been caused by previous man-made actions such as the tunnel, rock islands and groynes) so that future generations can experience what is left of the items of special scientific interest at Pennington Point. But that is a personal opinion. I have shared it with EDDC a few times, but it carried no weight in the approach to coastline management that they approved in the Shoreline Management Plan.
    Grenville J
    I don't see a reason for the bridge at all as the residents can walk down the road. 

    All this fuss about nothing.  Typical.
    barking mad
    Is the falling of the cliff due to erosion at the base of the cliff or due to water seeping through from the top? Did this start when the original wooden breakwaters were removed? Would replacing the wooden breakwaters help the drift?
    Stuart H
    If the old wooden ground field had been kept in good order back in the 80's we wouldn't have had the problems to start with Barking Mad and as for the bridge Grenville it plays an important role in the economy of the town as our gateway to the coastal footpath to the east it is also the lifeline for residents east of the Sid...... To be directed in land to Millford bridge crossing and then Beatlands Road with no footways would be a very sad day indeed for Sidmouth.
    The mechanism of cliff erosion appears to involve both the top and the bottom.

    The top of the cliff is soft mudstone. When it is water-logged and the slope is at or steeper than a certain angle then there is a landslip.

    The base of the cliff is slightly harder sandstone. When the shingle beach is narrow or low then waves can hit the base of the cliff eroding it away. This then causes rockfalls  eating away both the bottom and the top to make them more vertical. This makes the top becomes more likely to slip.

    There is then a complicating factor in that there is an old railway tunnel through the sandstone base, which suddenly collapses every so often.

    So it is a combination of both top and bottom - sea and rain.

    It appears that what is required to slow the erosion down is firstly improved drainage at the top and second a wider beach and/or calmer seas at the bottom. The erosion will still happen, but more gradually.

    I hope I have explained that clearly and correctly. I hear and see the explanation at the Beach Management Plan Steering Group, but I am not a geologist, so can only explain it in layman's terms.
    I hope this helps.
    Steve H
    Good posts Jo, Very intresting for someone who knows very little about this! For me I find it one of the most intresting places in Devon even though I live in Exeter.
    Thanks Steve H. I find Sidmouth an enchanting place to live in. Glorious landscape all around.

    Streetlife | What's going on with Sidmouth's beach management plan?

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