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Environment in Sidmouth – Council Chair, Councillor Chris Lockyear

January Article

Chair of Council Cllr Lockyear

Sidmouth Town Council held its January meeting on 8th January. We were delighted to welcome 4 visitors including PC Driver of Devon and Cornwall Police. Most meetings of Sidmouth Town Council are open to the public, unless confidential issues are being discussed, and we would be delighted to see more members of the public. And there is space on the agenda If you want to ask a question.

A lot of our work is done in Committees and Working Groups and we had reports from each at the meeting. The main groups are Tourism and Economy, Environment, Planning and Youth Provision. Each covers different aspects of the work of Sidmouth Town Council and in this months report I want to discuss some of the things related to the Environment.

The Town Council is active on various topics in relation to the Environment including climate change, natural environment, built environment and pollution.

On Climate Change we are seeking to both reduce the Council’s own carbon footprint as well as encourage residents and businesses to reduce theirs. One such initiative is the offer to residents and businesses of the Sid Valley of a free infrared (thermal imaging) camera survey of their houses or premises in order to identify possible areas of heat loss. Heat can be lost through walls, windows, doors or roofs as a result of poor insulation, poor design or poor maintenance. Not only does this involve wasted energy but also of course wasted money. We have a team of volunteers who will come to your property to take the photos and the images are then sent to you with some comments. They say a picture speaks a thousand words and these images can certainly help you understand where heat is being lost. See How much heat is your house losing? – Sidmouth Town Council

One mitigation for climate change is the planting of trees that will absorb some of the carbon that has been emitted. Working with the Arboretum and others we plan to plant 14,000 trees in the Sid Valley, one for each resident, which will change the natural environment in the Sid Valley. We will also be doing a survey this year with the support of Sidmouth Arboretum to understand how many trees we have in the Sid Valley and what type. The Arboretum did a similar survey 10 years ago and so it will be interesting to see what has changed. In 2014 about 10% of the trees were Ash but since then a lot have been felled as a result of Ash dieback.

With regard to the built environment, Sidmouth Town Council has been working with East Devon District Council on the Beach Management Plan to protect Sidmouth from the sea. Before Christmas we were delighted that the Environment Agency agreed to support the project with £15 million. This has allowed detailed design to start with a view to building additional breakwater(s), a groyne on East Beach, and a re-enforced splash wall along the Promenade, raised somewhat at the eastern end. Once installed, this should reduce the risk of flooding significantly for decades to come.

Along with many residents Sidmouth Town Council has been concerned about the discharge of untreated sewage to our river and into the sea via the Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs). We have been working with South West Water and others to highlight the problems and to find solutions. South West Water has committed to spend around £10 million over the next couple of years to address the issue. We are one of only 2 towns in the South West to get this accelerated spend. The key issue is that clean water is getting into the sewers which cannot cope with the extra load. The excess diluted sewage then has to be discharged untreated into the river or sea. South West Water has been undertaking CCTV surveys of the sewers to identify leaks and have identified areas that need lining. This work will start shortly. They are also seeking to reroute surface water, for example from the Ham carparks, away from the sewer. Both these interventions will reduce the load on the system and therefore the number of times the CSOs are used.

The Environment Committee has some involvement with all these activities undertaken by voluntary groups and other organisations, for the benefit of all the people and things that live in the Sid Valley.

Later this month the Council will agree its budget for 2024/25 and so I will tell you more about that next month.

6 February 2024
Last Updated
7 February 2024
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