Sidmouth – People warned to stay off beach after five cliff falls in a month

Regardless of whether or not the cliffs are displaying signs that it may crumble, EDDC urge the public to keep their distance.

A spokesperson said: “You would be putting yours and the emergency services lives at risk.

“Please do not access Sidmouth East beach at all, and at Jacobs Ladder ensure you stay at least the same height the cliff is vertical away from the base.”

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Chloe Parkman www.devonlive.com 

East Devon County Council (EDDC) have cleared up locals concerns regarding Sidmouth’s cliff falls.

It is understood that there was over five separate landslides in the town last month alone, raising the question as to whether the town’s cliffs are crumbling more now than ever before.

EDDC explain the signs to look out for prior to a cliff fall, as well as what action you should take.

In response to whether or not there has been an increase in landslides, a spokesperson for EDDC said: “It is difficult to say.”

Last month, the town of Sidmouth experienced three cliff falls in the space of 24 hours, in addition to a further two which took place the following week.

Despite the number of landslides that have occurred, EDDC complete annual cliff inspections at Beer, Budleigh Salterton, Seaton and Sidmouth.

These inspections include removing loose material and additional safety works such as installation of rock netting.

The Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan (BMP) scheme aims to reduce the risk of flooding to Sidmouth by maintaining the standard of defences along Sidmouth Beach, and to reduce the rate of erosion to the cliffs to the East of the town (and therefore the rate of exposure of the East side of Sidmouth to coastal conditions).

A spokesperson for EDDC said: “Cliff falls are a natural and unpredictable occurrence along the East Devon coast, this is because the rock from which the cliffs are formed is soft and therefore prone to rock falls and landslides, which can happen at any time, although heavy rainfall can trigger incidences.

“The BMP cannot, however, stop cliff falls.  In fact, many of the recent cliff falls are beyond the area the BMP will protect, occurring further East on National Trust land.”

Despite the glorious sunshine the county has experience over the last few weeks, it is this warm and dry weather that has played a key role in the cause of the landslides.

A spokesperson adds: “The main reason [for the cliff falls] is the prolonged dry weather we have had, which followed the wettest February on record.

“The extreme wet to dry condition of the cliff is the likely cause of the falls.

“However there are other factors in place such as the climate emergency and sea level rise.”

Although there are concerns that the number of cliff falls in the town have increased, EDDC are unable to confirm whether this is true or not.

A spokesperson adds: “It is difficult to say [if there has been an increase or decrease] as cliff falls aren’t recorded by a central body.

“On land we own and manage there hasn’t been any increase in cliff falls compared to previous years.

“Along the whole coast there is likely to be a rise in the recording of cliff falls due to the good weather and increase in staycations, there are more people around the coast to witness any fall.

“In a normal year, plenty of falls would go unnoticed.”

“It is good practice when on the beach to stay well clear of the cliff base and to keep an eye out for fresh fall material or water running down the cliffs, which may indicate an area that is weakened and loose.

The Coastguard advises that walkers should keep a distance away from the cliff, that is equivalent to the cliffs height.

For example, if a cliff is 20 metres in height, pedestrians should keep 20 metres away.

A spokesperson adds: “Through the Sidmouth and East Beach BMP, we have plans to reduce the rate of erosion of the cliffs where property is threatened.

“The Sidmouth and East Beach BMP is a long term plan, and construction is likely to be a year or so away, we all hope the Covid-19 situation will be over by then, so it should not affect the scheme.”

Regardless of whether or not the cliffs are displaying signs that it may crumble, EDDC urge the public to keep their distance.

A spokesperson said: “You would be putting yours and the emergency services lives at risk.

“Please do not access Sidmouth East beach at all, and at Jacobs Ladder ensure you stay at least the same height the cliff is vertical away from the base.”

If a cliff fall does occur and you suspect that someone has been injured, call 999 immediately.

 

One thought on “Sidmouth – People warned to stay off beach after five cliff falls in a month

  1. A spokesperson for EDDC said: “Cliff falls are a natural and unpredictable occurrence along the East Devon coast, this is because the rock from which the cliffs are formed is soft and therefore prone to rock falls and landslides, which can happen at any time, although heavy rainfall can trigger incidences.
    As this is undoubtably the case why is it that EDDC, every year, erect beach huts in Budleigh Salterton, west of Steamer Steps, 20 foot, if that from the base of the cliffs? They are situated just by the notice “Beware of Cliff Falls” ( of course they have not been erected this year due to Covid 19)
    Old locals of the town were brought up with the story of the 2 children killed in that spot before the war and forbidden to play in that area.
    It is an accident waiting to happen.

    Like

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