Control of Exmouth seafront flood gates taken over by East Devon District Council

Flood water in The Esplanade Exmouth, Picture: Tom Hurley

Flood water in The Esplanade Exmouth, Picture: Tom Hurley - Credit: Tom Hurley

Control of highway flood gates in Exmouth will be taken over by East Devon District Council.

Installed on the seafront, the flood gates are considered essential, and if they are not operated, up to 1,500 residential properties plus numerous commercial properties will remain at flood risk during a storm event.

They have been operated by the Environment Agency, but with it facing cutbacks, East Devon’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday (October 28) night it was no longer feasible for them to be the primary responder and in charge of closing the flood gates when storm events are predicted.

Councillors unanimously agreed that it would be sensible for East Devon District Council (EDDC) to be the primary operator of the highways gates, and a community group operating under Exmouth Town Council, will be the primary operators of non-highways gates.

Supporting the move, Cllr Geoff Jung, cabinet member for coast, country and environment, said: “The scheme to get volunteers to work on the gates has worked elsewhere in Devon and this will be very welcome for the residents of Exmouth to be protected from storms and rising sea levels.”

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In the event of storm conditions forecast, EDDC would receive a warning from the Environment Agency at least six hours before gate closures would be required.

EDDC would then close the central route, via Alexander Terrace, with gates opposite Morton Road and the Eastern Route, via the Esplanade, and adjacent to the Premier Inn.

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The western route, via the Esplanade, with gates adjacent to The Grove, would be the last gate to be closed, as it has the highest threshold.

Once the central and eastern route gates have been closed, EDDC staff would man the western route gates, only allowing vehicles out of the impounding area. Once all vehicles have been removed, the western route gates would be closed.

Once the storm, or series of storms has passed, the Environment Agency will indicate the gates can be opened. EDDC will then open the gates at the earliest opportunity, the meeting heard.

In regards to the non-highway gates, it is envisaged there will be two separate community volunteer groups, one based at the Camperdown area, and another based at the seafront, which will be responsible.

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