Lower Otter Restoration Project gets EU funding boost

PUBLISHED: 14:00 11 June 2020 | UPDATED: 10:53 12 June 2020

The Lower Otter Estuary in Budleigh Salterton. Picture: PACCo

The Lower Otter Estuary in Budleigh Salterton. Picture: PACCo


A multi-million-pound project to restore the Otter Estuary to its historic flood plains, in a bid to deal with crumbling sea defences, has been handed a funding boost.

The Lower Otter Restoration Project has been awarded around £8.5 million as part of Project PACCo – Promoting Adaptation to Changing Coasts.

By creating mudflats and saltmarsh, moving a road and relocating Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club the Otter Estuary scheme aims to relieve pressure on sea defences and prevent a ‘catastrophic’ failure of the river’s embankments.

The estuary is one of two pilot sites for PACCo: the other is in the Saâne Valley in Normandy.

PACCo has a budget of £23.1m, including £16m from the European Regional Development Fund via the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme.

The funding will support the Lower Otter Restoration Project’s aims of climate change adaptation and to reconnect the river with the floodplains it had two centuries ago.

Funding for the £12 million Lower Otter Restoration Project is also being provided by landowners Clinton Devon Estates and the Environment Agency.

Dr Sam Bridgewater, head of wildlife and conservation at Clinton Devon Estates, said: “The European funding approval is a major milestone for the project and we are on the verge of another as we are submitting our final planning application to East Devon District Council for consideration.”

Prior to the current coronavirus crisis, an exhibition was set to be held in Budleigh to display the latest proposals prior to planning permission being sought this summer.

The plans will now be published on the Lower Otter Restoration Project website.

Dr Bridgwater added: “To reach this point the project partners have consulted extensively with the local community over the last seven years, with their input and responses helping us shape the direction of the restoration project.”

Mike Williams, from the Environment Agency, said: “PACCo is an extremely exciting project, which will deliver real benefits for people and wildlife on the ground, and help others to build on our success elsewhere. “We must all find ways of adapting to climate change if we are to manage our estuaries and coasts successfully in the future.”

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