A project to keep sand off the road at Instow has been launched this week.

Sand piling up beside the main road through Instow seafront. Picture: Selaine SaxbySand piling up beside the main road through Instow seafront. Picture: Selaine Saxby

The North Devon Biosphere project seeks to reduce flooding and deal with the problem of sand repeatedly getting swept over on to Marine Parade.

The initiative follows on from a sand management meeting chaired last September by then district councillor for Instow and now also MP for North Devon, Selaine Saxby.

The multi-agency meeting brought together county, district and parish councils with the beach owner, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Andrew Bell and the Biosphere team to devise a long-term approach to the repeated issue of sand encroaching on the highway.

The project is based on one which has been successful in Swansea and is designed to keep the sand within the ecosystem.

It was felt the ongoing costs to the county council and landowner had been unsustainable, and it is hoped this new approach will contain the sand in the most environmentally sustainable manner.

Selaine Saxby said sceptics may recall a similar scheme being tried some years ago, but the timings and detail of this approach were much more detailed and there was an estimated 80 per cent chance of success.

Ms Saxby said: “I am so pleased that these works have been able to go ahead despite the current coronavirus situation. The first week after I was elected as district councillor the road through Instow was closed following an accident and so I was instantly involved in trying to find a sustainable solution.

“The multi-agency meeting was hugely helpful as there are so many different groups involved in managing our beautiful beach and estuary in Instow.

“There was a full sand clearance on the road last November as well as on the beach to try and ensure we got through the winter without further road closures.

“This week’s works mark the start of the longer term phase which I very much hope will be successful. Thank you to all the agencies involved who have worked brilliantly together to come to this solution.”

Andrew Bell, Biosphere Reserve co-ordinator and service manager, added: “We have been ahead of the curve in working with natural processes to address problems.

“The previous system of cleaning the sand was costing Devon County £30,000 per annum. If this project succeeds, it will save far more than this and reduce the flood risk in a few homes.

“These projects can only work where there is an established partnership in this case between Environment Agency, the county, district and parish councils, Natural England and ourselves; each contributes their skills and resources to the design and process”