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Beach Management Plan: make or break

  • by JW


“We are now getting very near to the end of the pause and pressure is building.”



The BMP’s Advisory Group last met on 15th July.

However, to date, there has been no press release or issuing of any formal notes:

Press releases about the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan – East Devon

Nor has the meeting been made available on the District Council’s Youtube channel as yet:

East Devon District Council – YouTube

Nevertheless, the VGS was able to produce notes and a report:

Advisory Group meeting 15th July 2021, Zoom

There were written statement read out from Sam Scriven of the Jurassic Coast Trust and from Ed Harrison of the Sid Vale Association who could not be at the meeting, but we do not have the statements themselves. However, Mr Scriven wrote a later email complaining about what he saw as lack of concern for the Environment, he stated that both the Advisory Group members and EDDC used language and tone during the meeting which caused him to lose trust. A similar email was received from Natural England, and it would appear that Mr Scriven had enlisted them in support of his approach. It is the VGS position that the remarks were taken out of context and that issues of the environment are properly addressed. The VGS is a strong supporter of the environment and sustainability.

Our report on the meeting can be found here

The presentation shown to the Advisory Group is here

From the BMP Steering Group – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The next meeting of the Advisory Group is scheduled for the end of September:

Browse meetings – Sidmouth and East Beach BMP Project Advisory Group – East Devon



This week sees crucial meetings on the next steps of the BMP take place. 

Today, Tuesday 31st August, sees the ‘Pause Subgroup’ meet up – but it doesn’t have much time left.

Here’s a reminder of what the subgroup is all about:

As a result of changes to the Government funding calculations it was discovered, early in 2021, that the Beach Management Plan qualified for more money than it had earlier.

This resulted in discussions at the Advisory Group meetings as to whether it would be sensible to revisit technically superior designs which had been preferred by the town but then discounted on the grounds of costs. The decision was that the process of the current option be paused for 6 months from February to the end of August to allow consultants to reassess things.

The VGS submitted this discussion document.

Due to it being necessary to obtain permission from EDDC Cabinet, the agreement for this pause was not in place until the beginning of March 2021 and so the 6 months was to end in September.

The Pause Subgroup – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Beach Management Plan: cabinet agrees to a six-month pause – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Since April, there have been several meetings of the subgroup, the last being 12th August:

There have been more frequent meetings of this subgroup than has been possible with the Advisory group as a whole. The subgroup reports back to the Advisory Group. T

he informal and fast moving nature of the subgroup means that it is very much a discussion group to help inform EDDC, therefore any notes the VGS gives on the proceedings will be short and normally only cover major points not the minutiae of discussions. As the process nears its end the reports will have greater detail. Members speak their opinions in a full and frank manner and all have differing priorities, this means that no stone is left unturned and any consensuses are reached as a result of this rigorous process.

Indeed, the subgroup has gone out of its way to be ‘rigorous’ – and the reports on the VGS pages have sought to reflect that. Sometimes, however, reports in the press do not quite show the same rigour:

Beach Management Plan: sub-group reviewing the options – Vision Group for Sidmouth



2012 Dec private album

The subgroup will be meeting with the Consultants on Thursday 2nd September.

Its last meeting with the Consultants was at the end of July:

30th July meeting with the consultants At the beginning, in March, we had been told the consultants were keen to meet with us for a brainstorming session to get the process going.

This meeting didn’t happen. We were then told on several occasions that a meeting with the consultants would be happening soon, but each time the meeting was postponed. As a result there was a lot riding on this first meeting so close to the time when we will have to make some big decisions.

The report of the meeting attempts to be impersonal but in doing so obviously loses the ability to represent the immediate reactions of those present. It also doesn’t capture the flavour of subsequent email exchanges within the subgroup, although the clarification shared by Tom Buxton-Smith is given below. The separate document with the comments of our representative on the subgroup is an attempt to address these lacks.

This meeting was not what many of us had been anticipating. There was very little positive new information. Most of it seemed to be about why it was considered that things wouldn’t work, but with very little factual basis. An unaffordable idea was shown and the meeting ended with the consultants suggesting that we should consider reverting to the Paused Option. The subgroup felt that they could not make this decision without some firm information from the consultants so asked that they come back to us having got information on possible changes to the option shown. The hope is that that they will work to find an affordable scheme which avoids having a large groyne on East Beach and a high splash wall on the Esplanade. This was the same instruction they were given in February but which has not yet been achieved.

1) Report 

2) Personal comments on the report of the 30th July meeting.

3) Tom Buxton-Smith issued this clarification after the meeting:Although not explained in the meeting, TBS wishes to make some post meeting clarity. The East Beach swimming safety concern is strictly not to make east beach safe for swimming, its to not increase the risk to existing swimmers post scheme. Under CDM 2015 (Constructioj Design Management) designer cannot introduce a risk, without following a hierarcy of managing the risk. The first action is always avoid. Therefore the designer is avoiding the risk to swimmers by not introducing any rip currents. They will then work their way through various mitigation methods until one is acceptable. In the first instance, CDM dictates the risk should be avoided which they have. Clearly future iterations can introduce exclusion, signage measures, but would rely on the project taking on risk of future litigation should a swimmer be hurt in the future.

The Pause Subgroup – Vision Group for Sidmouth

It now seems that was are at a point of ‘make or break’ for the BMP, as there’s very little time left to make decisions – with the Pause Subgroup having to make recommendations to the Advisory Group, which should be meeting up at the end of September to take things forward.

The formal Project Management Group has still not been established: this group will be responsible for the actual delivery of any BMP, once it has been decided on. It will include Lead Officers from within the District Council, as well as the Environment Agency and statutory consultees, 

As the VGS representative on the subgroup says:

We are now getting very near to the end of the pause and pressure is building.”