The Environment Agency has announced it is ‘completely committed’ to a £9million project to restore the River Otter
PUBLISHED: 16:06 06 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:06 06 August 2018
The Environment Agency has announced it is ‘completely committed’ to a £9million project to restore the River Otter and help avoid a ‘catastrophic breach’ of the failing 200-year-old sea defences in Budleigh Salterton.
The news has prompted the Lower Otter Restoration Project team to reveal its plans to ahead with gaining the green light for the works to begin once funding is confirmed.
The Lower Otter Restoration Project is looking at the possibility of restoring the estuary to a more natural state, reducing the impact of climate change while creating new habitats for wildlife and improving water quality.
The project, led by landowner Clinton Devon Estates and the Environment Agency, considered four options, revealed to the public at an exhibition in Budleigh Salterton last year.
The preferred option will see the Big and Little Marsh floodplain restored, with breaches created in the Little Bank, the Big Bank and the River Otter Embankment, allowing water to flow.
New footbridges would ensure continuity of existing access, and the relocation of Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club.
The Environment Agency has now confirmed its commitment to the Lower Otter Restoration Project, while applications for funding grants start - allowing work to manage the estuary to press ahead, avoiding delays on delivering the scheme.
Ben Johnstone, Environment Agency flood risk manager, said: “We are completely committed to the Lower Otter Restoration Project and, together with our partners, want to drive forward our work to create multiple benefits for people and wildlife.”
The partnership scheme will provide new and improved access and amenities, including maintaining the South West Coast Path and relocating the Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club.
It will also protect the old municipal tip in the flood plain and deliver compensatory habitat for the construction and maintenance of flood defences in the Exe Estuary, including Exmouth, Starcross and Cockwood.
Dr Sam Bridgewater from the Lower Otter Restoration Project team, said: “This is great news from one of the key project partners. We can now seek the necessary consents and permissions from a variety of authorities, so that we are ready to start work on the ground as soon as possible once funding is confirmed.”
Budleigh Salterton councillor Tom Wright said: “Should the project proceed, a new home would need to be found for the Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club, and they have been very supportive of the proposals.
“The stakeholder group is keeping a wide range of local people and groups up-to-date with the progress of the project and this close communication continues to be very welcome.”
A Lower Otter Restoration Project public exhibition will be held later this year.