Change better managed than panic reaction

Letter in this week’s Exmouth Journal sets out local amenity society’s position on LORP:

The Otter Valley Association has been involved since the inception of the Lower Otter Restoration Project (LORP) and is a member of the technical steering group, trying to give a local flavour and input to the proposals.

In general the OVA is supportive of the project, based on the understanding that change is inevitable with climate change, higher sea levels and more violent storm events.

We consider that change would be far better as a managed process, and not as panic response to a disaster.

The managed process of LORP has attracted the necessary funding to make a proper scheme, whereas major storm damage – tomorrow, next week… – would not be repaired the latest Coastal Management Plan policy.

During the process the OVA representatives have been keen to emphasise the continuation of public access and enjoyment of the area. Particularly the retention of the footpath from the Lime Kiln car park to White Bridge.

We will be continuing to liaise during the construction phase to try and ensure that the necessarily disruptive works cause minimum effects to the use by the public, though for site safety reasons there will inevitably be diversions and/or temporary closures.

If funds were unlimited, there are undoubtedly other things the OVA would like to have seen included. But we are realists in recognising that the proposed scheme is the best available, and far better than the ‘do nothing’ option’.

The changes will be difficult for a number of our members who know, love and enjoy this very special area of the local countryside.

However, we have come to understand that the alternative of doing nothing is not sustainable.

Change is inevitable and we consider that change would be far better as a managed process, and not as panic response to a disaster.

In the longer term, the project will bring significant wider ecological benefits through the re-creation of a more naturalised estuary that enables a more dynamic transition from a fresh water to a brackish system. This should greatly add to the value and integrity of the existing Otter Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest and the vulnerable wildlife that depends on it, including wintering waterbirds.

It should also increase the area’s resilience to our changing climate through restoration of natural processes and provision of the natural flood risk management benefits that saltmarsh and mudflat are known to provide.

HAYLOR LASS

Vice Chair Otter Valley Assocation on behalf of the OVA executive committee

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