Northam Burrows Coastal Defence Repairs

North Burrows Sea Defence Works

Torridge District Council (TDC), as Coastal Protection Authority, takes the responsibility associated with the management of the pebble ridge at Northam Burrows very seriously. The authority have adopted the principles of The Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) of 1998, as revised in 2010, which sets out the framework for the sustainable long term management of this coastline.

Management to prevent exposure of the disused landfill on Northam Burrows is an important component of the plan to the extent that Torridge District Council working closely with Devon County Council and in conjunction with the Environment Agency and Natural England have previously carried out a series of measures to maintain and reinforce the coastal defences in this area. Devon County Council managed the landfill site until it closed in the early 1990s and continue to routinely monitor the landfill material.

Storm Eleanor earlier this year caused minor damage to the existing coastal defences protecting the landfill at the northern end of The Burrows. These defences were installed following erosion caused by the storms of 2014 and repaired to prevent further exposure of landfill material as per the policies set out in the SMP. 

Over the past month TDC have been working with Devon County Council and Officers from both the Environment Agency and Natural England to assess the damage and implement initial remedial work required to limit the potential for further damage. 

Re-establishing the northern end of the coastal defences was completed before the end of January ahead of next high tides forecast of the first weekend in February.  

Part of this work has identified the need for a further review of the existing data available and specifically the potential for additional management arrangements for the former land fill site. Studies previously completed will be re-evaluated to consider any environmental changes that may have occurred and any impacts over the perceived risks associated with the landfill part of the site. 

The agencies involved are committed to working together and continue the good working relationships established in recent years. The assessment of historical record information and recent data collected following Storm Eleanor will be reviewed to re-assess the impact further storms may have on the ongoing management of this site. 

All of the agencies involved recognise the importance of this unique local environment and are equally concerned about the risks posed to the natural habitats and the economy in the surrounding area were the landfill to become exposed. A task group has been set up to consider the medium and long term options for the management of landfill site within the Burrows and the surrounding coastal defences.

In the meantime, TDC will continue to monitor the condition of the coastal defences and implement the short term maintenance of these defences for the safe management of the landfill site.

Jane Whittaker, Leader of Torridge District Council said: "It really is great that all of the relevant organisations have got together and set up the multi-agency task group to consider the long term options for the management of the land-fill site on the Burrows. Although Torridge Council did act swiftly to begin the re-establishment of the coastal defences which were in place prior to storm Eleanor, this is only the start of the job to be considered. Given the concerns being expressed  by so many people I am absolutely determined that further positive steps will be taken to ensure that the long term safety of the tip is finally addressed and that the issues of a managed retreat is properly considered as well."

Further information about the Shoreline Management Plan and historical data associated with this dynamic coastal environment can be found on our website at www.torridge.gov.uk/northamburrows

6 February 2018