The 60 miles of AONB coastline has taken a battering over recent weeks from the combination of gale force winds, high Spring tides, storm surges, low atmospheric pressure and heavy rainfall. But as we look from the school half term holiday towards Easter, the message to visitors is that repair work along the AONB coast has already begun.
The sites suffering most are Beesands and South Milton Sands, as well at North Hallsands, Slapton Sands, Leas Foot (Thurlestone) and Challaborough. Car parks, roads, tracks, sand dunes and slipways have been damaged. The low-lying parts of Salcombe and Kingsbridge were flooded during the height of the storms.
Immediate repair and safety work is in progress at several sites, but some will take longer to deal with. Tough decisions are needed on how to deal with the changing coastline. Land ownership, responsibilities, access rights and legal processes are really complex and some of the sites will need negotiations involving different owners, neighbours and organisations. Whatever the solutions, the costs will be expensive at a time when everyone’s budgets, particularly in the public sector, are already stretched.
The AONB office has prepared a listing of sites, summarising the scale of damage and what is happening to deal with it. We will keep the listing updated but please let us know of any changes you know of as the situation is constantly changing. Please see storm damaged coast
Robin Toogood of the AONB office said: “In the 20 years I have been working here, this is the most widespread damage to the coast and we don’t know what the weather holds in store for us over the coming weeks. A lot of work is going on to get car parks and path routes back in action with builders and engineers already on site."
The last significant storm damage was in 2001 when the main road at Slapton Sands was closed for weeks. Robin went on: “In storm conditions, thousands of tons of sand and shingle shift along the shore in a matter of hours and, depending on the wind and wave patterns, much of it may return over the coming summer. So while some sites have been stripped of sand, other beaches are at the highest levels for years."