There are some excellent opportunities for fieldwork or class-based studies using recent decisions made to control flooding in the Exe estuary in Devon. The Environment Agency and Teignbridge District Council are working together on a new beach management scheme at Dawlish Warren, which will get under way in early 2017. Flood defence experts are planning to bury a giant barrier in the dunes – likened to a sand-filled 400 metre long sausage – to allow the spit to continue to act as a barrier to storm waves, and stop the Exe estuary from flooding.
A group of wooden groynes has helped to defend the narrow spit of Dawlish Warren for generations, but they suffered significant damage during the storms of winter 2015/2016. Despite a package of emergency restoration through 2016, the groynes are deemed no longer up to the job – leaving the spit at risk of being breached as a result of rising sea levels and severe winter storms.
If this happened, it would increase the risk of flooding to the London to Penzance railway line and thousands of homes in estuary communities such as Starcross, Lympstone and Exmouth.
Hre is a great resource – Images of posters used at the recent November public consultation can be downloaded from Fickr for use in the classroom:
Winter 2015/2016: Groynes damaged in winter storms.
Spring 2016: Emergency work on groynes.
Summer 2016: Refurbishment of groynes 5 to 9.
January 2017: Site compound established.
February to May 2017: Removal of existing gabion stones
April to June 2017: Installation of new timber groynes at groynes 10 to 14.
May 2017: Work commences at the neck following relocation of sand lizards.
June to August 2017: Dredging of material from Pole Sands, pumped onshore to replenish beach.
July 2017: Planned completion of work at the amenity area (groynes 1 to 4) ahead of summer holidays.
September 2017: Completion of works.