The Environment Agency has successfully completed a project at Dawlish Warren sea defences to help protect businesses and property on the South Devon coast.
Dawlish Warren is a large sand split and dune system. Environmentally, it is of international importance particularly with regard to wading and breeding birds. Many species of rare plants occur too, while the sandbanks and mudflats support populations of invertebrates, which are of national significance.
The area has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area by the EU and is contained within the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
Dawlish Warren is also a hugely popular beach resort attracting up to 10,000 visitors a day in the summer months.
In one of the most exposed parts of the beach, storms over the past year have impacted upon the dunes and groyne system, making it unstable and presenting a potential hazard to shipping, navigation and public safety.
Andrew Latham for the Environment Agency told the Devon Week: “We repaired the groyne and replaced a number of the boards, the timber piles and installed a steel bracing system supported on 3.5m long steel piles to stabilise the structure.”
The gabion mattresses at the heads of several groynes had also sustained damage and required the placing of rock armour to prevent any further failure.
Andrew said: “The project team worked between tidal shifts, ensuring each time that the structure was intact before the beach was cleared in advance of the incoming tides.”
Access to the site was along a track which ran through one of the most environmentally sensitive areas of Dawlish Warren. The Environment Agency liaised with Natural England, Teignbridge District Council and Network Rail regarding the access arrangements.