Imperial Rec plan lodged

PUBLISHED: 14:01 14 December 2011

Imperial Rec

Imperial Rec

Archant

Two-thirds of the 33 trees lining an Exmouth beauty spot will be chopped down and replaced so work can begin on preventing the area from crumbling into The Exe.

And, to protect nearby-wading birds, the works will likely have to be carried out all next summer.

A ring of stone, built around the foreshore of the Imperial Recreation Ground just over 20 years ago, is disintegrating. Piece by piece, it is gradually being washed out into the ‘Duck Pond’.

As the land, on top of an old waste dump, falls away, there are also concerns that traces of a cancer-causing substance in the top soil - benzo(a)pyrene found in cigarettes - will gradually become exposed.

Pieces of glass, bricks, stone and slate are also gradually contaminating the foreshore.

The district council, which says there is no danger to the public, has applied to rebuild the concrete ‘revetment’ and cover the ‘The Rec’ - popular with dog walkers - with three metres of new top soil.

The roadway lining the ground will also have to be raised, steps leading into estuary will have to be built and broken pieces of the crumbling wall will have to be cleaned up.

However, the work could pose its own dangers, so a three-point plan has been drawn up to prevent contamination of The Exe during the wall’s construction.

The design statement reads: “During construction of the revetment, the landfill will be exposed and, as a result, there is a potential for contamination of the estuary.

“The main risk is that of increased physical contamination of the foreshore from material washed out from the landfill.”

Engineers plan to use a ‘bund’ - or a temporary barrier - on the foreshore during construction to prevent debris from leaking into The Exe – this bund could then ‘scoop’ up the debris, which could be reintegrated within the new wall.

A thin membrane could also be placed over the slope into the water, preventing smaller particles from escaping.

The document also stated that the works could pose a risk to wildlife.

“The revetment works are also likely to disturb birds, not only in the revetment site itself, but also some distance further out on Cockle Sands and on the Zostera beds within the muddy corner alongside the Imperial Road car park.

“Many wildfowl feed on the Zostera, particularly Brent geese.”

To avoid this problem, said the report, work should be carried out during the breeding season when the least numbers of birds are present for food, between April and October.

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