A resident comments on the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan

From a resident:

“I think Owl needs to be informed that the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan, or at least its Preferred Option, is very far from ‘fully funded’, as it says on East Devon Watch.

In fact, the opposite is the case.   It is an eye-watering £50 million short, according to EDDC’s own figures.  Ironically the Preferred Option is the most expensive of all the options that have been considered.

The PO explicitly states that regular recycling and recharging of both the main and east beach will be required throughout the 100 year lifetime of the BMP.  EDDC helpfully provide an estimate of how often this will be needed and what it will cost. Recharge and recycle will be needed every 10 and 4 years respectively.   The cost of both combined is about £4 million. Recycle is less expensive than recharge, but we can therefore expect the cost to be £50 million over 100 years.   So half a million pounds per annum will have to be found.   The PO offers no indication as to where this money is coming from.   Not from EDDC, that is for sure.   I think they expect Sidmouth Town Council to find it, which is unthinkable.

So EDDC’s plan is to get a cheaper option undertaken now, and then allow future generations to pick up the longer term consequences.

But, its worse than that. The PO explicitly states that its calculations of the level of protection from sea ingress and continued erosion both depend upon the maintenance of a ‘design level’ beach.   However, by recognising the future need to recharge and recycle, the document recognises that this will not be maintained.  Why recharge and recycle, if the beach is already satisfactory and doing its job? So the PO is explicitly designed to fail.

And, its even worse than that. Most locals expect any recharged material to quickly disappear in the next significant storm. The beach presently has a fairly consistent profile arising from the forces of wind and wave that act upon it.   Since the PO includes no offshore changes, those forces are going to remain much the same over the next 100 years.   It is therefore inevitable that the beach will quickly revert to its current profile.   So well below design level. The PO thus openly acknowledges that it is not going to work.

So there is no money for recharge and recycle, and even if there were, it is only going to work quite briefly.   Both beaches are likely to return quickly to their current profiles.  This means that erosion at East Beach and vulnerability to flooding at Main Beach are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

It is for this reason that the huge splash wall ( higher than Seaton’s ) has been introduced at the eleventh hour to the scheme, having previously been rejected.”