New footbridge and cricket club lead next stage of restoration in Lower Otter

  • Temporary diversion of the South West Coast Path to allow for the construction of a new footbridge
  • Moving Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club to a safer location above the floodplain

The dry summer allowed the project to progress well. Significant progress has been made in preparing and consolidating the new elevated, flood-proof South Farm Road alignment ready for construction, the construction of a road bridge that tidal waters will flow under, and the lowering of the Great and Small Benches to the north of the scheme. Accordingly, the project now shifts its focus to the far south of the site, paving the way for the reconnection of the historic floodplain with the River Otter and its estuary via a breach in the existing earth embankment.

To ensure the continuity of the popular and nationally significant South West Coast Trail, a 70 meter footbridge will be constructed at the location of the future breach. This will provide a more accessible, all-weather route through the elevation of the 900m long footpath on the western edge of the valley, which runs from the entrance to the current Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club on Granary Lane to South Farm Road. .

For the duration of the walkway work, a temporary detour will replace a short section of the trail from September 15, 2022 until the breach is completed in spring/summer 2023.

Map showing the South West Coast Path diversion route

Beginning work the same week after the end of its final season, nearby Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club will move to its new home on pre-built and purpose-built ground. This is a more sustainable location that will offer improved facilities and is no longer prone to flooding. This means that the existing lodge will be demolished and some of the surrounding vegetation in the floodplain will be removed by a specialist team of arborists. All lost trees will be replaced as part of the project’s mitigation planting program. This work will allow the creation of more than 50 hectares of salt marshes and mudflats rich in rare fauna.

Dan Boswell of the Environment Agency said:

With the continued support and patience of the local community and visitors to the Lower Otter, our work to reconnect the estuary to its historic floodplain for the benefit of birds, biodiversity and people is beginning to take shape. The South West Coast Path and the cricket club mean a lot to the community, so it is important to us and to the project that the project supports their future and helps them adapt to rising sea levels.

The temporary diversion of the pedestrian path will allow users to continue to enjoy the area in complete safety with the least disruption possible. The new walkway and improved trail will allow visitors to have better year-round views of the surrounding natural habitats and the diverse wildlife that will be attracted to the restored wetlands. The new home of the relocated cricket club will not only protect it from the risk of flooding, but will also allow for an even wider range of amenities and community activities.

The Lower Otter Restoration Project is an intertidal habitat creation project carried out by the Environment Agency in partnership with the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust and Clinton Devon Estates.

It is part of a cross-border initiative called “Promoting Adaptation to Coastal Changes” (PACCo) where we are working with partners in the Saâne Valley in Normandy (France) to share learning on carrying out adaptation to climate change.

The Lower Otter Restoration Project has been majority funded by the UK Government, with £8.5m co-funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), through the Interreg VA France (Channel) England program (2021 to 2023).

Project details can be found at: https://www.lowerotterrestorationproject.co.uk/projectaims.html

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