Multi-million pound funding bid for Lower Otter Estuary project fails

PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 April 2018

23-05-0399SH Otter Estuary

23-05-0399SH Otter Estuary

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Project leaders behind an ambitious multi-million-pound realignment of the River Otter have expressed their disappointment at a failed funding bid.

23-05-0399SH Otter Estuary23-05-0399SH Otter Estuary

The team driving the Lower Otter Restoration Project (LORP) was refused £2.4 million in Heritage Lottery funding for the scheme.

LORP was among 16 bids put forward for this round of funding, but was not one of the four chosen to receive cash from the £10million pot.

If funding is found, the current embankments would be breached to reintroduce tidal flooding to the estuary and allow the river to reconnect to its historical floodplains.

The joint Clinton Devon Estates, Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust and Environment Agency project is seeking between £8million and £12million - depending on the final option chosen - to complete the realignment.

Despite the setback, project leaders remain confident of securing the funds needed.

Dr Sam Bridgewater, head of biodiversity and conservation for Clinton Devon Estates, said: “While it is disappointing that the Heritage Lottery Fund has decided not to offer us funding in its latest round, we remain very positive about the project and its potential to address the impacts of climate change.

“Over the coming months we will continue to explore other funding avenues, including the Environment Agency itself, the cross-Channel Interreg VA programme and the Landfill Communities Fund.”

Last year, the project held a consultation event in Budleigh Salterton to gauge public opinion on a preferred option for realigning the river.

Following that event, the partnership identified four options for the future of the estuary.

Dr Bridgewater added: “The project partners are still to consider the option appraisals being put together by engineering and environmental consultants Jacobs (formerly CH2M) to decide which is most environmentally and socially desirable, and financially and technically feasible.

“We hope to be able to select our preferred option in the next few months and present our findings to stakeholders in due course.”

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