River Clyst plan opposed by public

PUBLISHED: 08:40 31 March 2013

Campaigners against plans to create a new wetland habitat in the River Clyst are claiming a victory, after a public consultation revealed strong opposition to the scheme.

The Environment Agency is proposing to allow the river to burst its banks by Topsham flats, to replace habitat which will be taken away by new flood defences in the River Exe.

The agency says it would make sure its plans do not affect the road between Topsham and Darts Farm, however local landowners are not convinced, saying it could lead to repeated flooding of the sort seen in November last year, when the road was impassable for several days.

And after the agency’s public consultation on its draft Exe Estuary Strategy earlier this year, campaigners have found much support.

The agency says that out of around 150 responses it received from the public about the plan, which covers the whole estuary down to Exmouth and Dawlish, more than 80 were objecting to the River Clyst proposals.

The agency also received a petition of more than 400 people supporting the Save Our Clyst Campaign.

Campaigner Nigel Cheffers-Heard, of the Bridge Inn, said: “The agency has been telling us for years that if we don’t want the project, it won’t happen.

“I think this unequivocal response means they have no option but to stop wasting public money and scrap this ridiculous scheme.”

The Environment Agency’s Martin Davies said: “Because of the scale of the public response, the Environment Agency will listen and consider all the points to agree a suitable way forward with our partners – the county and local councils, Network Rail and Natural England.

“The solutions will need to work for the entire Exe Estuary, protecting people from tidal flooding into the future and protecting the special natural environment that we have here.”

The agency says it will respond to everyone who submitted written questions, and will publicise all the responses received by the end of May.

In response to this, Mr Cheffers-Heard said: “The fact the agency is delaying publication of the results of the consultation for two months suggests they have no answer to this overwhelming vote against them.”

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