Beach Management Plan: update on the pause process

“Go with the Alternative Option which has emerged from the 6 month Pause which is a greater variation on the Preferred Option, where a high splash wall has been replaced by an island off Town Beach but the large groyne on East Beach is retained.” 

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It continues to be difficult to navigate where exactly we are with the Beach Management Plan – largely because the record-keeping and availability of documentation is patchy.

OFFICIAL REPORTS:

The last press release on the ongoing Beach Management Plan was from May 2020 – a year and a half ago:

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

We do, however, have the ‘notes’ from a meeting in February 2021:

Agenda for Sidmouth and East Beach BMP Project Advisory Group on Thursday, 25th February, 2021, 9.30 am – East Devon

The next meeting of the Advisory Group will be later on this month – and the agenda for this does include some documentation from the previous few months:

Consultative meeting, Sidmouth and East Beach BMP Project Advisory Group – Monday, 25th October, 
1. Welcome and apologies
2. Notes from the previous meeting held on 25 February 2021  PDF 260 KB
3. Notes from informal briefing held on 15 July 2021  PDF 232 KB
Included with the notes are letters from Natural England and Jurassic Coast in response to their viewing of the informal briefing; and the subsequent response from EDDC.
Additional documents:
Sidmouth BMP advisory group briefing July 2021 response , item 3. PDF 926 KB
NE Sidmouth East Beach BMP response letter_Final , item 3. PDF 152 KB
Letter to JCT and NE , item 3. PDF 258 KB
4. East Beach – why is it so important
5. Current scheme proposal at East Beach
6. Update on the pause process  PDF 2 MB
7. Outlining the current alternative option (B)
8. Reminder of the preferred option
9. What would no decision mean
10. Update on EA funding
11. Vote on advice of which option to take – A,B or C

Agenda for Sidmouth and East Beach BMP Project Advisory Group on Monday, 25th October, 2021, 9.30 am – East Devon

East beach, difficult to see sediment.

The VGS dedicated pages include comprehensive reports on all meetings.

THE ADVISORY GROUP (formerly the Steering Group): 

Advisory Group meeting 25th Feb 2021, Zoom
The Steering Group has now been renamed to the Advisory Group to better reflect what it actually does.
You can find the report of this meeting here, and can listen to the meeting itself on the EDDC YouTube Chanel
It has been agreed to set up a temporary subgroup to be involved in the Pause Study ( agreed in this report above), you can find their reports here

Advisory Group meeting 15th July 2021, Zoom
This meeting was only a briefing meeting as current Government rules do not allow decisions to be make in remote meetings.
As of 13th August 2021 the recording of this meeting is not yet available on the EDDC YouTube Channel
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 PAUSE SUBGROUP:

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, it was made clear that we knew this was the view of a layperson and so was intended as ‘brainstorming’ only.

[April 30thJune 10thJune 17thJuly 26thJuly 30thAugust 12thAugust 16th]

31st August meeting
This was a meeting ahead of the meeting with the consultants on 2nd Sept.
It was agreed at the meeting that we really need clear information from the consultants in hard copy of some description. Trusting in the spoken word to convey ideas clearly is not going to give us the information we need to make sensible choices.
There is a quick report here but a more detailed one will be written about the meeting with the consultants.

2nd September meeting with the consultants
EDDC and the consultants have decided to extend the 6 month ‘pause’ because they feel we are nearing an acceptable alternative plan. In practical terms they feel that this extension should not delay the process because things can not move forward until approved by Cabinet, and the next Cabinet meeting is not until the 6th October.
However, as they have now pushed back the next Advisory Group into October ( and they want the Advisory Group input before the report for Cabinet is written) I feel that it is a real delay. If the report is not submitted to Cabinet until the 3rd November meeting we will have lost a month.
Having worked in the private sector I find this relaxed attitude to getting things done most disconcerting.
I have found it very difficult to capture this meeting so if anything I have written does not make sense then please contact us to ask for more details.
Report on 2nd Sept meeting.

11th October meeting
This was a meeting to consider the draft report produced by the consultants and to prepare for the next Advisory Group. As such it contained no new ideas but was a briefing and discussion about where we may encounter problems as the scheme goes forward.
The report can be found here.

The Pause Subgroup – Vision Group for Sidmouth

To finish with the conclusion from the VGS report on the meeting of 11th October:

The three options are 1. Revert to the Preferred Option and the previous Outline Business Case with minor variations to reflect work which was subsequently done on possible designs for the splash wall. 2. Go with the Alternative Option which has emerged from the 6 month Pause which is a greater variation on the PO where a high splash wall has been replaced by an island off Town Beach but the large groyne on East Beach is retained. 3. Reject both options and start again

There are compelling reasons for option two to be chosen and we are hopeful that Cabinet will agree.
However, once the money has been obtained in principal then we can do modelling and design work which will inform the actual shape of the final scheme. [Tom Buxton-Smith, EDDC Engineer] was clear that if this further work came up with a superior design solution to the one originally approved then we could ask permission to use the superior design. This permission is likely to be given if the design truly is superior, because the EA wants the best scheme as much as we do.
This information was very welcome to the group. We welcomed the idea of the design at this stage being acceptable to the EA and being approved for funding and yet not being a final design set in stone. We all felt that further work could bring us to a better design for Town Beach while not holding up work to be done on East Beach.
It was felt important that we communicate clearly to the public that in an ideal world we would have wanted the balance of the design to be different but that we were compelled in another direction due to Government funding rules. In short, we would have to accept an inferior solution to the problems facing us. We have to be pragmatic about what can be achieved.

   
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