Otter Estuary project offers ‘multiple benefits’

PUBLISHED: 09:00 02 May 2015

Archant

Support from the public will be a major help to a project planning big changes to the Otter Estuary, the proposers have said.

Landowner Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) is working with the Environment Agency (EA) on the Lower Otter Restoration Project.

They are planning to reintroduce tidal flooding to the River Otter by reconnecting it with its former flood plain, which lies to the west of the river, including the area currently occupied by Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club.

This plan, which could see the South West Coast Path move inland and South Farm Road raised, would reduce the risk of the river breaching its other banks, and the need for costly clearances of a drainage outfall on Budleigh beach, while, as a bonus, creating a new marshland area which could attract more wildlife.

At a public event in East Budleigh, held to give an update on the project, which has been under discussion since last year, Mike Williams, who has been seconded to CDE from the EA to work on it, said they were now beginning to look at how it might be funded.

Mr Williams said: “We are making progress, but slow progress. We’re looking now at how we fund the project.

“Funding is likely to have to come from a lot of different sources.

“It’s a big, high-cost project. “What’s very clear is this project ticks a lot of the funding boxes. There’s only a limited amount of funding out there, and we have to make a convincing case, not just to one organisation, but two or three organisations.

“The more support we can garner from local people and organisations, the more likely it makes it that we will be successful in our funding bids. The project has evolved since we started talking about it, and largely on the back of what people have said to us.”

CDE’s Dr Sam Bridgwater said detailed discussions were being held to make sure the cricket club, which would have to relocate, and tenant farmers, were happy with the plans.

Dr Bridgwater said: “There are multiple benefits. We would get more wildlife habitat for sure, we would be safeguarding access to the South West Coast Path.

“We could have a nice cycle path from Budleigh to Otterton.

“There are all sorts of reasons we would want to do it.”

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