Multi-million pound Exmouth tidal defence scheme backed by town council

PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 October 2018

Exmouth seafront being battered by high tides. Picture: Contributed

Exmouth seafront being battered by high tides. Picture: Contributed

Archant

A multi-million pound project to strengthen Exmouth’s tidal defences has been backed by town councillors despite concerns for estuary-side flora.

Councillors gave the green light to two applications relating to the Environment Agency (EA) project, at its latest meeting.

The town council’s planning committee were discussing a hybrid outline application for the scheme including new flood walls and embankments. They were also discussing a listed building consent proposal for the strengthening of Smeaton Wall.

Despite concerns over the felling of more than 20 estuary-side trees, the cutting back of vegetation in the Sampson’s Boatyard area and the impact on hedges in Morton Crescent, the committee voted to support both applications.

Exmouth Civic Society has raised concerns about the felling of trees between the rugby club and Mudbank. Speaking at the meeting, Ian Cann, secretary of the society, said while they do not wish to ‘frustrate’ the scheme they hope EA will follow through on promises to replace felled trees with those of a ‘similar age and size’. District councillor Eileen Wragg, who also spoke at the meeting, said: “This scheme has been put on hold for two years because the costs have risen.

“I don’t believe this scheme can afford any delay because of the increased frequency of the winter storms. I do appreciate the concerns of the Exmouth Civic Society but I really do believe that our priority must be the protection of human life and residential property.”

She also said that Smeaton Wall, which has been protecting the town from the sea since 1841, needs to be strengthened and any concerns about it being a listed building should be ‘over-ridden’.

Councillor Tim Dumper, district councillor for the town ward, said: “What this scheme is attempting to protect against is actually coastal overtopping and clearly we need to make this an urgent thing.”

Cllr Maddie Chapman: “Priority has to be given to human life and property so the wall has to be built. I hate the thought of losing a tree but we need a different type of tree which doesn’t react quite so badly to sea water.” East Devon District Council will make the final decision on the application.

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