Pole Sands dredging plan to shore up beaches

15:20 20 September 2012

A large sand bank off the coast of Exmouth could be dredged and used to shore up Dawlish Warren and Exmouth beach.

The scheme, which would see sediment taken from Pole Sands, is currently being studied by Teignbridge and East Devon District Councils, and was presented to Exmouth Town Council this week by Teignbridge officer Graeme Smith

Councillors had previously raised concerns about the plan, saying that reducing the level of Pole Sands could leave Exmouth seafront open to bigger waves and flooding.

But Mr Smith insisted that any dredging on Pole Sands would only take place at the furthest point from the shore, and the flood risk to Exmouth would not be increased.

He said the action was vital to protect Dawlish Warren, which could receive around 115,000 cubic metres of sediment from Pole Sands.

The need for Exmouth beach is still being considered, and could see anything from zero to 80,000 cubic metres of sand being used.

The dredging operation could cost between £10million and £12million, and would need to be paid for by government funding.

If it received approval, it could take around six months to complete, but is not expected to begin for at least 18 months.

Mr Smith told councillors: “We need to bolster the beaches. There’s a lack of new sediment coming to Dawlish Warren – longshore drift tends to wash it across to Exmouth and Pole Sands.

“We want to protect what we have got, working with nature, using its own sediment, putting it back on the beach where we think it came from, to what we hope is everyone’s benefit.

“Pole Sands acts as a huge wave break for Exmouth and obviously we wouldn’t take sand if that would [lead to] more wave energy hitting Exmouth. Compared to the whole of Pole Sands we’re looking at taking an incredibly fine veneer.”

In response to councillors’ questions, Mr Smith also suggested boating channels off Exmouth could be dredged at the same time, if requested by water users.

Following the presentation, councillors seemed reassured about the plan, but did restate their concerns if too much material was dredged.

Deputy mayor Bill Nash said: “It sends a bit of a shudder, even though you say skimming Pole Sands, because it does protect up the channel and into town.”

Councillor Eileen Wragg said: “I remember Pole Sands being like an island, but certainly it is very much a bar to protect Exmouth, so I think you can understand our concerns here that if Pole Sands are reduced in any way it might make Exmouth more vulnerable.”

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