East Devon District Council Approve £12m Tidal Defence Scheme For Exmouth
By Sofy Robertson
East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee have unanimously approved the Environment Agency’s scheme to reduce the risk of flooding from the sea.
The £12m scheme will reduce the risk of flooding from the sea to more than 1400 homes and 400 businesses in the town. At present, there is a 1-in-25-year flood risk (4% chance of flooding in any year) which the success of the plan will reduce to 1-in-200-year (0.5% chance).
Following approval for the funding of the project in 2017, The Environment Agency began working in partnership with East Devon District Council to work out the details of the tidal defence scheme.
A public exhibition was held in September 2018 for local people and businesses to find out more about the new defences which will extend along three main areas in the town.
The approved scheme will incorporate:
- Flood embankments and walls between the Withycombe Brook and Imperial recreation ground.
- Raised defences between the Imperial recreation ground and Camperdown Terrace.
- Strengthening the existing seawall, improving drainage for water to drain back out to sea, flood gates and new set-back defences along the landward side of the Esplanade.
Outline permission was also granted for proposed road alignments and flood defence gates/wall at the Alexandra Terrace Junction with the Esplanade and in front of Moreton Crescent.
In addition, listed building consent for strengthening works, installation of square plates and works associated with installation of flood gates and posts to Exmouth Sea Wall was approved.
East Devon’s lead councillor for flooding, Cllr Susie Bond commented:
“This is a fantastic, and a huge and complex scheme. It will protect 1,400 houses so on that basis this should be applauded.” (Radio Exe)
Work is due to begin on the tidal defence scheme in April and will be adapted to avoid disruption on the seafront during the summer and to winter birds on the estuary.
Speaking on behalf of the Environment Agency, Richard Samphier told councillors that they have listened to feedback from residents and made a number of changes including moving the Royal Avenue wall closer to the estuary, removing the Moreton Crescent wall from the detailed application, and adjusting the position of a flood gate at the sailing club. He also confirmed that a new solution has been developed for Moreton Crescent with the planning application due to be submitted in the coming weeks. The scheme for the junction at Alexandra Terrace is due to be submitted for approval by Summer 2019. Samphier explained:
“This is a flagship Environment Agency investment and the people of Exmouth will enjoy it.”
The necessity of such a scheme was demonstrated during the Autumn 0f 2018 when Storm Callum caused the Exmouth seafront to flood.
With projections from climate scientists suggesting that we will receive increasingly wet winters and a continued increase in sea levels, the works proposed by the Environment Agency will give added protection to Exmouth from tidal flooding.
The defence scheme can be split into three distinct areas; Areas A, B and C.
Area A extends from the boatyard to the north of Imperial Road car park, past Marks and Spencer’s and along the estuary side into the Imperial Recreation Ground. The plans for this area will involve some local land raising and a new sea defence wall.
Area B comprises of the Imperial Recreation Ground at its western end around to Camperdown Terrace and again includes some raising of local land. In addition, a curved flood defence wall and flood gates will be required.
Area C extends from Mamhead Slipway along the length of the Esplanade to the Premier Inn and includes the strengthening of the existing sea wall and construction of a setback defence on the landward side of the Esplanade. The esplanade road will be undefended and will flood from water that overtops the existing sea wall. Accounting for this, drainage will be installed to discharge this water back into the sea.
Construction is due to be completed by 2021 and the Environment Agency have pledged to work with East Devon council to ensure that disruption to winter birds on the estuary and to residents and tourists on the seafront in summer is kept to a minimum.