Huge cliff collapse at Exmouth beach

Enormous rocks have collapsed from a cliff face in Exmouth and have crashed onto a popular beach.

Chloe Parkman

The arches on a cliff at Orcombe Point – below the Eastern Steps – have tumbled onto the sand.

In a statement on Facebook, Exmouth NCI said: ”Huge new rockfall at Orcombe Point, Exmouth.

”Please stay away from the bases of the cliffs.

”Prolonged rain, big surf and spring tides continue to undermine the cliffs.”

Huge cliff fall in Exmouth (Image: Exmouth Coastguard and Rescue Team/Richard Bramwell)

In an additional warning to the public, Exmouth Coastguard Rescue Team said: ”Please keep well away from the area as the cliff is still very unstable and further collapses could still happen.”

The cliff collapse at Orcombe Point comes after research by Plymouth University on coastal change has predicted we will see more erosion than first thought

The study suggests parts of the coastline at Seaton, areas either side of Branscombe and East of the River Sid at Sidmouth may see more erosion than previously predicted.

Last year, Sidmouth saw a number of cliff falls – with three occurring in just 24-hours.

Photograph shows the cliff arches before the collapse (Image: Ben Griggs)

Following the research by Plymouth University, East Devon District Council’s strategic planning committee recommended that Cabinet consider the wider implications of this study beyond the setting of planning policy at their earliest opportunity, but with a note of caution that further work may need to be carried out to provide a fully informed paper.

Cllr Geoff Jung, portfolio holder for Coast, Country and Environment, said: “This is clearly an important piece of work to inform future planning policy and it is very much distinct from work that we are doing on coastal protection measures.

“We’re making great progress in developing beach management plans and coastal protection works. These will be designed to slow the rate of erosion in Seaton and Sidmouth and hopefully prevent the worst case scenarios identified in this study from occurring.”

The beach management scheme for the town, consists of adding a new rock groyne on East Beach, importing new shingle onto Sidmouth Beach, and East Beach, and raising the existing splash wall along the rear of the promenade.

It aims to maintain the 1990’s Sidmouth Coastal Defence Scheme Standard of Service and reduce the rate of beach and cliff erosion to the east of the River Sid, the scheme is now fully funded and is estimated to cost £8.7m – subject to the Environment Agency approving the submission of the council’s Outline Business Case.

3 thoughts on “Huge cliff collapse at Exmouth beach

  1. @Richard Eley

    EDW is not a part of EDDC – it is an entirely independent blog that often shares articles from elsewhere. The above article is a copy and paste from an online newspaper, Devon Live, which is not a part of EDDC either. Devon Live, like many local newspapers, cannot afford reporters time to research stories in-depth and often uses press releases almost verbatim. In this instance they appear to have taken a short facebook post announcing a cliff fall, and to make the piece a useful length have made reference to two previous articles from October 2020 to fill it out.

    As I am sure you understand, it does take time for EDDC members to digest the detail, to produce an action plan and to gain DoE approval / funding – particularly when the new administration (which is only 8 months old now and was only 4-5 months old at the time of the articles) has to understand just how badly the previous administration has dealt with this issue.

    Whilst commenting here is always good for raising general awareness, you really need to write to EDDC (to Geoff Jung perhaps) offering your insight and expertise. By all accounts (and from my personal experience of the individuals in both previous administration and the current one), I am sure that your comments and help will be far more welcome now than they would have been a year ago.


    • Hi Paul, I agree. We must give the new administration time and space to correct the errors of the past. I simply try to correct ‘fake news’ whenever it appears, especially in the context of the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan, regardless of the source.
      I’m not sure that EDDC will welcome your suggestion that I write to them more often!


  2. The Plymouth report is not identifying ‘worst case scenarios’. Their predictions of erosion rates are in fact ‘best guess’ estimates based upon recent ( last 30 years ) local rates of erosion. The predictions for Sidmouth are alarming, because recent rates have been so rapid. The Plymouth report uses ‘medium high’ estimates of future rises in sea level. So it is ‘medium high’ not ‘worst case’. in respect of sea levels. And, importantly, their use of the ‘medium high’ component only refers to the sea level rise element of their calculations. Everything else is ‘best guess’ not ‘worst case’

    It is therefore incorrect to refer to the Plymouth study as identifying ‘worst case’ predicted outcomes. I have previously complained about the use of this description, and my understanding is that EDDC have accepted it is incorrect and have agreed not to use it.

    I should also point out that the Plymouth study does not predict ‘more erosion than first thought’ on the coast between Sidmouth and Lyme Regis. In fact it generally predicts lower erosion than has been previously been indicated by the Shoreline Management Plan 2. It is only in two locations, Seaton Hole and Salcombe Hill, to the east of Sidmouth, that it identifies more rapid erosion than SMP2. In the case of Salcombe Hill, the Plymouth study predicts very high rates, ten times those predicted by SMP2. For Sidmouth, SMP2 predicts the loss of no houses in the next 100 years, but Plymouth estimate the loss of 61 homes to the sea over the same period.

    The Sidmouth Beach Management Plan has been plagued by disinformation and false statistics, so I hope you will excuse me if I politely point out the true numbers from the Plymouth report.


Comments are closed.