Call for action over Braunton flood breach
- Credit: Devon Aerial Media
Horsey Island in Braunton has hit the national headlines after more severe flooding through breached sea defences
More flooding at Braunton’s Horsey Island has prompted calls for something to be done.
There was a failed attempt to plug the breach in the outer bank before Christmas and fresh flooding over the weekend of January 6-7 has fuelled concern, with the pictures making national news.
The outer bank has been breached and the historic Great Sluice damaged, but there are also concerns of the effect on the inner bank which protects farmland.
North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones has asked the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to visit North Devon and said he will make sure he is aware of the urgency of the situation on Horsey Island.
Parish councillor Brad Bunyard met the Gazette at Horsey Island to survey the flooding. He said: “They have known about it for a long time and I would like to see some action now. It would have been so easy to fix not so long ago.”
Andy Bell of the Biosphere Reserve said the first attempt to plug the breach with local marine clay worked initially, but contractors were unable to keep pace with rising tides and it was swept away.
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In a statement to councillors, he said using use shipping containers had been considered but there were waste concerns.
He said: “The contractors and the owners are now designing a scheme to propose to the EA (Environment Agency) that brings in inert waste with high clay content, tested before it arrives on site in compliance with a waste plan that needs to be approved by EA and MMO (Marine Management Organisation).
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“The reconstruction of the culvert remains as originally intended.”
Derrick Spear, chairman of Braunton Parish Council, said it had been involved since November and organised a round table meeting with North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones in the hope of repairing the damage.
At a recent parish meeting, councillors expressed their concerns and it was agreed to ask Mr Heaton-Jones to follow it up again.
Mr Spear said: “Although the landowner is primarily responsible, it is a complicated issue and there are additional concerns as to the effects of losing so much land.
“We already have a sea defence for Braunton – the most visible part being the wall protected the Velator community but there is much more. We need to know whether this is still robust and when and how often this is checked.”
Mr Bunyard said it was more than a year since the EA did a survey highlighting the areas of the inner bank that need work. He added: “I am trying to raise awareness and keep up the pressure to reinstate it. We need it to be robust enough to deal with more frequent violent storms – we have a 400 millilitre sea level rise predicted by climate change, so we want a bank for the next 40 or 50 years to deal with that.”
Mr Heaton-Jones added: “This is an issue I have been working on for many months now and I fully understand the concerns.
“It is worth noting that this is an extraordinarily complex situation. The land in question is technically privately owned and yet the question of liability is very unclear in law. Indeed, one of the pieces of legislation governing this landscape dates back to 1811! I am also working to try and clarify this.”