It’s not too late

PUBLISHED: 07:10 14 February 2014


I should like to echo the comments of your previous correspondents on the vandalism on Exmouth seafront.

On looking down the seafront this morning (Wednesday, February 5), I was dismayed to see further damage to the sand dunes along the beach.

This is not just the result of the force of nature. True, we have been having exceptional weather, but sand dunes, if allowed to exist free of human intervention, grow a tough covering of specialised vegetation that resists the force of the waves.

What I have noticed is that over the last few years these dunes have been vandalised, such that the vegetation has been depleted, with the result we see now.

The culprits include people, not only children, who slide down the sand, and also EDDC, who last year were engaged in digging up the dunes, possibly in some attempt to keep sand from blocking the road.

As is routinely done in other parts of the world, the dunes should have been totally enclosed by an adequate, maintained fence, that would have kept people out, enabling the stabilising vegetation to grow unmolested.

All I have seen erected there is some flimsy plastic material that hardly serves any purpose at all.

And now that the dunes are so diminished it is clear to see that footprints cover the whole surface.

In 2012 an EDDC officer told a friend of mine: “Restricting access could never be achieved, unless we closed off areas and made it impossible to enter them – unsightly and unachievable I’m afraid – also without guarantee of any wildlife benefits.”

“Unfortunately, our dunes are not considered to be on par with the Dawlish Warren ones, and any effort to make them so would also be unachievable. Streetscene constantly review options regarding these dunes with other EDDC departments and outside agencies. For the foreseeable future we are happy to leave them as they are.”

So what is their opinion now? Presumably that they are no longer worth saving and perhaps need clearing away?

As to the first point quoted, on the continent sand dunes are routinely protected by strong fencing and survive well protecting inland areas from the worst of the weather.

So yet again in England – or, more precisely, in East Devon – we cannot do things properly!

May I ask through your pages for someone who knows more about these things than I do to clarify whether there is any legal requirement to protect the dunes, who is responsible for that, and then we can then find out from them why no effective action has been taken either to provide adequate fencing or to police the vandalism.

It is becoming clear that the dunes might disappear altogether, but it is not too late for protection to be put in place.

Elinor Scott


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