Call for urgent work on flood relief pipe

PUBLISHED: 15:12 14 March 2014 | UPDATED: 15:12 14 March 2014

(c) Hemera Technologies

Farmers’ fields and Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club could be waterlogged for weeks if a vital drainage outfall is not cleared, it has been warned.

The outfall, which runs under the beach to the sea at Lime Kiln, has become blocked following the heavy storms in February.

This means that drainage dykes around the cricket ground are full, stopping the pitch from draining, and water is also not clearing from fields up the Otter Valley.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has a contract with local farmer Tom Pyne to clear the outfall, but the blockage after the storm is so severe that he needs specialist help.

EDDC is therefore being urged to bring in contractors and clear the pipe as soon as possible.

Cricket club secretary Kevin Curran said: “The cricket ground is still a quagmire and not drying out, and it affects all the way up the valley.

“The fields remain sodden as the water has got no escape route and that affects the farmers as they can’t use their fields.

“It also increases the flood risk in regard of the access road to South Farm Road because the water table is very high.

“Unblocking the pipe can only be done when the tide is sufficiently low. Time marches on and the windows of opportunity are only there at specific times.

“It’s been six weeks now, and we are only a month away from the start of the season.

“Groundsmen should be on the ground preparing for the season, and time is getting short.”

“The season could be seriously delayed if we don’t get this freed.”

Budleigh councillor Tom Wright, EDDC deputy portfolio holder for environment, said he had spoken to the council’s engineers about the problem.

He said: “They accept they need to get contractors up the pipe to clear it.

“That’s a highly specialist job and they are actively seeking contractors to do it.

“They recognise and are very well aware of the restrictions on when they can carry out the work due to tides.

“EDDC is very grateful for the efforts of Tom Pyne, who was awarded the contract because of his local knowledge, and has been doing sterling work.

“But this extreme weather has forced huge amounts of debris up the pipe and is restricting the outflow.”

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