Long-term plans to protect Dawlish Warren and other areas in and around the Exe Estuary continue to be a priority for Teignbridge District Council and the Environment Agency.
A new Exe Estuary Coastal Management Strategy, commissioned by the Environment Agency, will help develop a long-term programme of works to manage the risk of flooding and erosion at Dawlish Warren and within the Exe Estuary for the next 100 years.
The Warren functions as a major coastal defence, protecting the main line rail network and the communities of Dawlish Warren, Starcross, Powderham and Exeter. It’s also an internationally recognised National Nature Reserve, and a popular tourist destination, including a beach, amusements, shops, green space and a pub.
Surveys of the beach and sand dunes taken as part of the Teignbridge Council and Environment Agency partnership on coastal monitoring has revealed an area of potential breach at the Warren, where in certain storm conditions flooding could occur.
The Environment Agency’s Flood Management team attended the Teignbridge Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee to respond to observations and questions from Members about erosion at Dawlish Warren.
At the meeting, the Environment Agency team explained the historical background to the coastal processes which affect the Warren and Members heard how it changes its shape naturally over time. Since the 1960s the construction of a number of coastal defences including timber groynes, concrete walls and stone baskets have reduced the risk of flooding and erosion at the site.
Over the next 20 years there are plans to ‘Hold The Line’, an approach put forward in the recent Shoreline Management Plan, published last year. This involves maintaining the Warren in its current state, repairing any breach or damage that may occur and investigating the need for a ‘recharge scheme’ to bring more sand to the popular beach.
Cllr Jeremy Christophers, chairman of Teignbridge Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee said: “It was important that members of the council heard about the strategy for the Warren. We were keen to hear how work was progressing and ask questions of the Environment Agency to help us better understand the issue and highlight the importance we place on the Warren.
“Officers at Teignbridge will continue to work closely with the Environment Agency in developing these plans for the Warren, and we’ll be keen to see how this progresses. Whatever the future holds, we do know that the shifting sands at the Warren will continue to change the shape and form of this special site. Our aim is to make sure that the Warren is well protected and managed for everyone’s benefit.
“I feel many members were sad to learn that no action would be taken in the near future, to improve the quality of the sand at Warren and that remedial action would only be taken if there was a breach in the flood defences, especially in view of the Warren being such a popular tourist destination and a haven for wildlife.
“The new Exe Estuary strategy will set out the future shape and form of the Warren, and we’re eager to see the results on whether new hard defences, beach management or simply localised repairs are likely to be required.”