Beach outfall needs regular clearance

PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:28 10 June 2010

I refer to last week's article Cricket club SOS Budleigh Journal front page). The request for support from our town and district councillors concerned only the two escape routes for the evacuation water from the streams and dykes which surround the ground

I refer to last week's article Cricket club SOS Budleigh Journal front page). The request for support from our town and district councillors concerned only the two escape routes for the evacuation water from the streams and dykes which surround the ground. The outlet to the rear of our groundsman's shed is the responsibility of the Environment Agency. Its effectiveness is considerably reduced because the channel taking the water out to sea is severely silted up and English Nature refuse to allow dredging works due to the designation of the estuary as being of Special Scientific Interest. The main outlet established for the release of water consists of the beach outfall pipe. The present structure, which replaced a pipe which previously went out to sea, now gets completely blocked with shingle with every high tide. This results in the back-up of water flooding the fields and dykes along the valley, resulting in a flooded cricket field, rendering the club's drainage system totally ineffective. Whilst not the cause of the recent major floods, these ineffective outlets are contributory factors. When acquiring the land for Lime Kiln car park, EDDC undertook by legal agreement "to ensure the proper clearance of all channels so as to permit the free passage of water to the mouth of the River Otter". For many years the cricket club, residents in Granary Lane, farmers and Clinton Devon Estates have made representations to EDDC in respect of their failure to discharge their legal obligations in this regard.In 1995, the chief executive responded to confirm the outfall was being cleared at least five times per week. Further complaints resulted in a similar response from the chief executive in June 2000, which also went on to confirm that the Council were seeking a permanent solution. In June 2003, we were told by the chief executive that, following tests and surveys, consultants had recommended the outfall was extended further out to sea. They advised also that this work could qualify for grant aid funding in the year 2005/6. The following year, 2004, after a great deal of work and cost in respect of planning permissions and architects' fees, we secured a lottery grant to rebuild the pavilion above flood levels. This was later lost, entirely due to EDDC refusing to commit to a timescale to carry out the beach outfall improvements. In 2005 we were told by EDDC that their capital programme still had funding for these works, but they were waiting on DEFRA to provide support towards the project.EDDC's comments to your reporter last week is a damning indictment of their dismal performance. They have moved from a commitment which looked to free the outfall daily and successfully clear the blocked outfall at least five times a week to only a weekly inspection and an ad hoc regime which results in the mechanical freeing of the outfall on considerably fewer occasions. This represents a complete failure of the legal agreement entered into by them when they acquired the land. The meeting held last year concluded with a letter being sent to EDDC on behalf of the cricket club, nearby residents and the farming community, requesting urgency and actions to more regularly free the blocked outfall and pointing out that nearly 10 years had elapsed since they first advised they were seeking a permanent solution, during which time both sea and beach levels had risen and, with global warming predictions, the position could only get worse. We also expressed our concerns for the safety of children attending the club and frequenting the children's adjacent play park. The open dykes to the rear of the pavilion present a major danger when left for days filled with up to six feet of water. With an extensive colts' academy and having our own Community League we put on more matches than any other club in Devon. We will again also be urging our MP and the town's Devon County Council representative to press EDDC for some positive action.Whilst no doubt cost restraints are related to EDDCs attitude and poor performance it is noted that substantial flood prevention works have been carried out at Sidmouth during the last few years. Kevin Curran, secretary, Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club

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