Tuesday 01 December 2020

Official Statement from the Environment Agency, South Hams District Council and Devon County Council

After the high tides and large waves at the weekend, we are aware there has been movement and further damage to the sea defences at Torcross

South Hams District Council and the Environment Agency would like to reassure residents that they are working together to work out what needs to be done to protect properties.  Experts, including highways engineers from Devon County Council, are also on site to assess and minimise further damage and to begin repair to the other sea defences and the highway as quickly as possible.

@sarahwollaston @DevonDC @SouthHams_DC @EnvagencySW

Main issues are the EA sea wall which has moved/ rotated causing the expansion joints and cracks to open up approx. 25-30mm for the full length of the structure. The EA are reviewing and thinking of placing rock armour in front as a temporary measure and have already secured funding for this.

The residents have reported knocking and movement in their properties and some have large internal cracks. They have been advised that Building control can comment on structural stability but the owner would be responsible for any repairs.

DCC are starting the route through the carpark for light traffic. A plan is in place for this but subject to the unexploded ordinance survey and they are looking into keeping some kind of bus route in place to Kingsbridge.

Access along the promenade for vehicles may be restricted while the structural integrity of the sea defences are being investigated.

On a positive note there is a slight recharge of shingle since last week and levels against the piles are better.

Question and Answer’s from meeting with MP Dr Sarah Wollaston

Q:  Will the rock amour protect the road as well – could the temp rock armour be placed in front of the main wall then can it extent along our section as well to protect the Highway and reduce any eddy currents that might get behind the slip
A: Don’t know yet until we have a solution from the studies

Q: The history of rock armour is that it is unstable and might damage the sheet pile
A: It would be a temporary solution and not the long term answer – but today we have secured approval for funding and are waiting for the engineers to tell us their recommendations.

Q: What should we expect in way of a time frame?
A: Days not months, not tomorrow, but we are mobilising people fast.

Q:  But the reaction to the events so far from DCC has not been speedy – the first hole appeared on 28th January
A: We are working with SH to develop a solution that won’t get undermined again, but before we can do this we need to do the unexploded ordnance surveys.

Q: You said that light traffic will be able to drive through the car park, but what about buses, this is a significant problem for us here, as 3500 people are without a bus now.
A: We are liaising with Stagecoach on this issue.

Q: When will the ordnance report be done?
A: The unexploded ordnance survey will be an ongoing matter for Devon County Council with the work it needs to do to protect the highway. 

Q We have sizable interior cracks – if we have these who should we speak to.
A: You can contact your insurer to advise them and they may suggest you arrange for a structural survey or if you are concerned about the immediate safety of the structure, you can speak to Devon Building Control – 01626 215793.  Note the responsibility for repairs lies with the home owner, not the Council or Environment Agency.

Q: What is the solution for the future?
A: : Any solution must look at the costs and options for dealing with the problem, there may come a point at which it is not cost effective to act within the framework of the policies that we have in place – to replenish all of the shingle would cost a lot of money, we would have to look at the value of the road economically.

We know that this has not happened as fast as residents would have liked, the longer term solution needs to work through the options and costings and any statutory consents, and secure the funding for the work

Q: Whitley trust, can we not speak to them about doing something more permanent along the beach?
A: The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (which owns Slapton Ley and much of the beach) is represented on the Slapton Line Partnership and will be closely involved with the other organisations in looking at the long term options.  Perhaps groynes or a breakwater are amongst the options that will have to be considered, but as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), any long term solution would also have take account of the environmental importance of the area.

Q: can we have someone from the community to act as a link, so not everyone is calling up the EA/ Council – perhaps a couple of spokespeople?
A: For the latest updates we recommend that you regularly check on www.slaptonline.org and keep in touch with your parish council.

For specific enquiries please go to our contact form we will endeavour to provide a response as soon as possible.

  • Publish Date: Tuesday 16th February 2016