A poignant planning application on the 75th anniversary of D-Day (and enthusiastically supported by Clinton Devon Estates)

Brandy Head is a promontory about 1½ miles SSE of Otterton.

In 1940 the RAF opened a gunnery research range here for ground attack fighters. An observation post was built on Brandy Head with blast walls at the rear and a viewing balcony looking seaward. Targets were floated offshore and aircraft such as Typhoons, Hurricanes and Spitfires from 10 Group RAF would fly from Exeter to test turret mounted guns, wing-mounted cannons and later rockets by flying over the observation post to attack the targets anchored at sea.

The utilitarian observation post still stands as a shell, having lost its roof, alongside the Coastal Path only yards from the cliff edge. It is often used by walkers as a place for a coffee break.

The new tenant farmer at Stantyways Farm has recently submitted a planning application 19/0883 to convert the observation post to holiday accommodation.

This raises an interesting debate: is this an example of imaginative re-purposing of a derelict land mark which will ensure its future; should the observation post be left alone to stand as a simple epitaph; or is it the start of a new camping site to rival Ladram Bay and Devon Cliffs on either side?

Owl has noted this passage from the Design and Access Statement supporting the application:

“Clinton Devon Estates have offered Mr and Mrs Walker their support and have stated:

“Clinton Devon Estates recently let Stantyway Farm to Mr and Mrs Walker, we are encouraged by their plans to farm organically and sustainably. Their tender included a wish to convert the lookout into visitor accommodation to make the most of the South West Coast path tourism and we support this diversification and use of the redundant building.

It is essential that the eco-sustainability side is expressed and access is by foot.”

Owl personally just wouldn’t perch overnight that close to the cliff edge!

Perhaps it also needs Listed Building or Heritage Building status?

Coastal communities at high risk within a generation

“Rising sea levels will claim homes, roads and fields around the coast of England, the government’s official advisers have warned, and many people are unaware of the risks they face.

The new report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said existing government plans to “hold the line” in many places – building defences to keep shores in their current position – were unaffordable for a third of the country’s coast. Instead, the CCC said, discussions about the “hard choices” needed must be started with communities that will have to move inland.

“There genuinely will be homes that it will not be possible to save,” said Baroness Brown, chair of the CCC’s adaptation committee. “The current approach is not fit for purpose. This report is really a wake-up call to the fact that we can’t protect the whole English coast to today’s standard.”

She added: “We could see as much as a metre of sea level rise before the end of the century, so within the lifetime of today’s children, and that has a major impact on coastal flooding and erosion.” Prof Jim Hall, another member of the committee, said: “We are not prepared.”

The regions affected include areas with soft, eroding shores in the south and east, as well as low-lying areas in East Anglia, Lincolnshire, parts of the south-west such as the Somerset Levels, and the coast between Liverpool and Blackpool in the north-west.

The entire coast of England is already covered by shoreline management plans, developed by the Environment Agency and local councils. These would cost £18-30bn to implement, but have no funding and no legal force. The CCC analysis found that, for more than 150km of coast, the plans to hold the line would cost more than the property and land that would be protected.

For another 1,460km of coast, the benefit of holding the line was twice the cost, but the government only currently funds defences with at least a sixfold cost-benefit ratio. “Funding for these locations is unlikely and realistic plans to adapt to the inevitability of change are needed now,” said the report.

The report also found that 520,000 properties are already in areas with significant coastal flood risk. However, this may treble to 1.5m by the 2080s without action.

Currently, 8,900 properties are at risk from coastal erosion and in 2014 the Environment Agency calculated that 7,000 homes, worth more than £1bn, would fall into the sea this century. But the CCC report found that in the 2080s another 100,000 properties would be at risk of sliding into the sea.

As well as properties, key infrastructure is also at risk from the sea level rise and bigger storms being driven by climate change. In the 2080s, 1,600km of major roads, 650km of railway line and 92 stations will be at risk, the CCC found. Ports, power stations and gas terminals are also in danger. A further risk is toxic waste from old landfill sites falling into the sea as the coast is eroded; a 2016 study found 1,000 such sites at risk.

Pollution risk from over 1,000 old UK landfill sites due to coastal erosion.

Brown said people living in coastal areas do not have access to good information about the risks they face. “A retired couple could buy, with cash, a house with a fabulous sea view without being given any information about whether it was at risk of erosion,” she said.

Making better information easily available would alarm people but was vital, said Hall. It would also affect property values, he said: “If it was better communicated, as we think it should be, then that would have a [negative] impact on house prices.”

The government must work with local councils on long-term, funded programmes that engage people and help them move if necessary, the CCC said. “Those are very difficult decisions,” said Brown. “Local councils are in a very tough situation having to raise those kind of issues with their communities. There may be a bit of denial going on in local authorities.” …”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/26/rising-sea-levels-will-claim-homes-around-english-coast-report-warns

Exmouth: dunes to disappear to replenish beach sand 2020-2025?

Fascinating that one of EDDC’s “old guard” councillors, Ray Franklin, got it SO wrong!

“… Cllr Ray Franklin, the portfolio holder for environment at East Devon District Council back in 2004, said: “The dunes will recover – it’s the way of nature. Sand has been lost, but it’s likely that the next storm will come from a different direction and bring more sand with it.”

And implications for the water sports centre?

“… Exmouth Beach is expected to be depleted over time, with the 2015 Beach Management Plan anticipating that beach recharge (importing new sand onto the beach) may be required between 2020 – 2025. The Beach Management Plan recommends that consideration is given to recycling of the material comprising the dunes to reinforce the beach between the new lifeboat station and Orcombe Point. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/what-happened-exmouths-iconic-sand-1935782

Sidmothians balk at contributing £3 m to flood defences: EDDC accused of “fiddling while Rome burned”

Local people and businesses in a coastal Devon town are being asked to help pay towards the cost of a new £9m flood defence scheme.

Sidmouth’s eastern cliffs, which protect the town from flooding, are vulnerable and eroding at the rate of about a metre a year.

East Devon District Council is asking locals and businesses to contribute £3m towards the project.

But many locals do not see why they should pay, and are accusing the council of having wasted time and money over the last decade, “fiddling while Rome burns”.

[EDDC response:]

“East Devon District Council is completely committed to this project. We have already invested over £500,000 of our own money into the research, investigations and all the other necessary work that is done. If we can find another £3m, we can then unlock funding just under £6m from Defra, who are the primary agency concerned with flood protection.”
Tom Wright
Environment Porfolio, East Devon District Council

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-43712628

Beach management: a timely warning from Dawlish Warren?

Is it good to go for cheap, short-term beach management plans?

“Storm Doris has caused beach levels at Dawlish Warren to drop. The recent stormy conditions have increased the vulnerability of the dunes, and have led to erosion of the dunes in some areas.

As a result, the schedule of works as part of the £14million scheme to raise the beach level at Dawlish Warren by two metres, as well as removing gabions along the sand spit, upgrading the revetments, dredging and recharging the beach and reinforcing the neck of the sand spit has changed.

A Teignbridge Council spokesman said: “To allow the dunes at Dawlish Warren to behave naturally, a key element of the Beach Management Scheme involves removing the existing stone filled gabion baskets installed along the Warren. Works started on this activity in early February.

“However, following recent stormy conditions the beach levels at Dawlish Warren have dropped dramatically, increasing the vulnerability of the dunes, and leading to erosion of the dunes in some areas. …

http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/storm-doris-causes-dawlish-warren-beach-levels-to-drop/story-30158793-detail/story.html

Garden shed falls into sea: Sidmouth beach management plan speeds up … on the cheap

“Consultants will soon be appointed to draft the outline business case needed to secure £5.7million in Government funding for a project to shore up Sidmouth seafront.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has begun the tendering process for coastal flooding and erosion experts who will conduct detailed investigations and technical reports for its beach management plan (BMP) for the town.

The chosen consultants will start this April and have until June 2018 to write an outline business case, which will be submitted to the Environment Agency for approval in order to access the funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Councillor Andrew Moulding, who chairs the BMP steering group, said there is a ‘good chance’ of securing the extra £3.3million needed to implement the authority’s preferred BMP scheme, option 1.

But a spokeswoman said EDDC has ‘not yet been able to identify’ where another £9million would come from for more costly defences that experts judged were the best, both technically and environmentally.

The BMP is likely to be implemented in 2019 at the earliest.

As part of the tender process, the consultants will be asked to price up option 1 – to build one or two additional groynes on East Beach, modifications to existing defences and periodic shingle replenishment and recycling.

This scheme was judged to give the best balance between technical viability, environmental acceptability and economic case.

Option 4 – to construct more offshore breakwaters – is still on the table and the consultants will have the option of adding it in if BMP steering group members determine that sufficient funding is available.

In phase one of the project, the consultants will develop computer models to predict how the shoreline will respond to storms and the resulting flood risk.

In the second phase, they will use the computer models from phase one to test and refine the preferred option with the aim of maintaining a healthy beach across both Sidmouth and East Beach.

EDDC is also tendering for surveys of the sea bed and sediment sampling via the South West Coastal Monitoring Programme so that those works can start as soon as possible, once the weather has improved.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/eddc_seeks_consultants_to_help_secure_5_7million_for_sidmouth_s_bmp_1_4892584