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Floodwater has subsided and South Farm Road is open

28 October, 2021: The recent flooding was an entirely natural phenomenon and was not caused or exacerbated by the LORP project works, the Environment Agency has said.
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The case for the Lower Otter Restoration Project

We’ve put together a briefing note for councillors and other stakeholders about the project, its background and what it hopes to achieve.
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The Lower Otter Restoration Project in the media

Otter Estuary project offers ‘multiple benefits’

Preserving beauty of the South West Coast Path

Estate considers valley flooding retreat plan

2 May 2015: Support from the public will be a major help to a project planning big changes to the Otter Estuary, the proposers have said.
Exmouth Journal

28 July 2014: At this time of year, whilst walking along the South West Coast Path, you can’t help but be struck by the beauty of nature.
Western Morning News

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Follow us: @WMNNews on Twitter | westernmorningnews on Facebook
Exmouth Journal

Exmouth Journal

8 September 2010: An east Devon estate may have to make a managed retreat from some land because of future rising water levels, it says.
BBC News

Town’s cricket club would have to find a new home

26 October 2014: Plans to allow the River Otter to reclaim more of its natural flood plain have moved a step forward following public consultations.
Express & Echo

River Otter plan: ‘Low risk’ of pollution

30 November 2015: The risk of ‘toxic’ landfill substances being released by plans to revamp the Otter Estuary is ‘low’, and more surveys will be carried out.
Exmouth Journal

Budleigh Salterton: Meeting to discuss cycle path

6 July 2015: Budleigh Salterton residents facing the prospect of a cycle track being built behind their homes are hopeful their concerns will be listened to.
Exmouth Journal

Otter flooding project: funds to be sought

24 October 2016: A controversial project which could see the Otter Valley flooded may have moved a step closer.
Exmouth Journal

Otter flood project: ‘No significant
cliff impact’

01 November 2016: A report has been published exploring the possible effects of the Lower Otter Restoration Project on cliffs in Budleigh Salterton.
Exmouth Journal

Budleigh residents to have say on Otter project

30 May 2017: Budleigh residents will have a chance to have their say on controversial plans which could see the reintroduction of tidal flooding to the River Otter. Exmouth Journal

'Catastrophic breach' could happen

1 June 2017: A plan to restore the estuary around the River Otter to stop a 'catastrophic breach' of the 200-year-old sea defences is being formulated.
Devon Live

Restoring East Devon river to stop 'catastrophic failure'

8 July 2017: Full scale restoration of the River Otter could cost up to £40million it has been revealed. It is one of four options at a public exhibition. DevonLive

River Otter realignment could cost up to £40m

10 July 2017: The cost of a project to secure the future of the Lower Otter Estuary could rise to as much as £40million, according to new plans. Exmouth Journal

Restoration Project now applying for funding

7 August 2018: The £8-9 million scheme will restore floodplain, create habitats, maintain the footpath and more for the estuary in East Devon.

Agency back £9m scheme to protect defences

6 August 2018: The Environment Agency have said that they are ‘completely committed’ to a £9m scheme to help restore the River Otter.

Agency completely committed to £9million project

7 August 2018: The Environment Agency has announced it is ‘completely committed’ to a £9million project to restore the River Otter.
Exmouth Journal

Funding bid for River Otter project is rejected

24 April 2018: A funding bid for a project that could help avoid a ‘catastrophic breach’ of the sea defences in Budleigh has been rejected.

River project to turn clock back 200 years

14 June 2018: The Lower Otter Restoration Project (LORP) has revealed its latest plans for the estuary as part of proposals to restore it to its historic channels.
Exmouth Journal

Agency committed to £9m River Otter anti-flood scheme

6 August 2018: The Environment Agency says it is "completely committed" to a £9m scheme to help restore the River Otter in Budleigh Salterton.
BBC News

East Devon Project Now Applying for Funding

8 August 2018: The Environment Agency recently confirmed its commitment to the Lower Otter Restoration Project while applications for funding grants are made.
Dredging Today

Cricket Club get encouraging news about relocation

18 November 2018: Clinton Devon Estates as landowners and partners in the LORP were now progressing a planning application…for a potential new home for the club.
Exmouth Journal


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Older News

Budleigh Salterton CC could be set
for new home

22 November 2018: Flood woes could be a thing of the past for Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club after it was revealed it could move to land near East Budleigh.
Exmouth Journal

Plans submitted
for cricket club's new home

26 February 2019: Plans which would see Budleigh Salterton's cricket club relocated have been submitted.
Exmouth Journal

Plans for new home for cricket club revealed

12 March 2019: After nearly 100 years at their Ottermouth home, Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club could be on the move.
Devon Live

Floods force
Devon outfit
into relocating

15 August 2019: Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club are set to relocate as part of a £9m scheme to help restore the River Otter.
The Cricketer

Exmouth Journal

Flood-threatened cricket club’s
plans approved

10 January 2020: Budleigh Cricket Club's move away from its flood-threatened home is a step closer after plans were green-lit.
Exmouth Journal

Otter estuary will be flooded after plans approved

£15m plan to restore flood plains approved

6 January 2021: Councillors have unanimously backed plans to restore the Otter Estuary to its natural and historic flood plains.
Devon Live

7 January 2021: A £15m plan to restore the historic flood plains of a Devon estuary have been given the go-ahead.
BBC News

Preparatory work on the Lower Otter Restoration Project to get under way on the ground

March 10, 2021: Following the unanimous support of East Devon District Council's planning committee for the Lower Otter Restoration Project, more preparatory work has been going on behind the scenes.

In recent weeks archaeological surveys have been undertaken at the site of the proposed new cricket ground off the B3178 East Budleigh Road and at the locations of what will be temporary works compounds.

The results of these surveys will be shared with the public in due course once any finds have been analysed.

In addition, the location of key notable plant species that will be translocated as part of the scheme have been marked out - look out for wooden stakes with their tops painted red!

The first major activity the public will see will be from mid-March when ground investigation works will be undertaken. These will involve mobile drilling rigs and excavators digging cores and trial pits across the site. Access of machinery will be via temporary aluminium tracks. This work is due to last about six weeks.

These ground investigations will obtain geotechnical, archaeological, buried utility and highway construction information. This work is being undertaken by the Environment Agency's contractor Kier and is part of the preparation for the main scheme, which is due to start in May/June.

Updates on this work will be shared on the social media channels of project partners including the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, Clinton Devon Estates and others.

Environmental monitoring will include habitat creation, wading birds, physical changes to the valley, carbon storage, marine and freshwater fish. Studies will also evaluate the success of mitigation planned to replace those habitats that will be lost and the long-term socio-economic impact of the scheme.

Please keep an eye out for future updates if you would like to find out how you could play a part in monitoring the project's environmental success.

Works timetable:

This will involve:

If you have any questions or comments about these site works, please contact Kier's Public Liaison Officer Jayne Johnson by email, at or for urgent matters call 07716 223056.

Click here to download a PDF of the Ground Investigation information leaflet.

Project PACCo

Climate change is real and is impacting on society worldwide. The Lower Otter Restoration Project is part of a wider international scheme funded by the European Interreg VA France Channel England programme called Promoting Adaptation to Changing Coasts (PACCo).

Together with a sister project in the Saâne Valley, Normandy (France), PACCo's aim is to highlight the impacts of climate change on coastal communities and to demonstrate that pre-emptive adaptation to climate change is far better and less costly to society than inaction.

The lower Otter and Saâne valleys hope to lead the way in showing how communities can evaluate climate change risk and adapt to current and future risks and highlight the benefits that might result from doing so.

A PACCo website and social media platforms will be launched very soon and this information together with regular updates throughout the project will be shared in local print and social media as well as through on-site interpretation. Engagement will also be face-to face as soon as it is safe to do so.

Section of footpath closes for archaeological work

April 6, 2021: A section of the western footpath at the Otter Estuary will be closed between 12-16 April for archaeological investigations ahead of the Lower Otter Restoration Project, then again between 4 May and the end of 2022 for the duration of the main scheme.

This closure only affects a short section nearest South Farm Road. It has been decided to keep the rest of the path open, which means that for the duration of the works this will be an ‘out and back’ route from Granary Lane. The northward section from South Farm Road towards Pulhayes Farm will remain open and all other routes are unaffected.

Throughout the project the eastern footpath (South West Coast Path) will remain open to allow access up the Otter Valley, although a short section of this footpath will be temporarily diverted to the north of the cricket club when construction works on the new footbridge northeast of Lime Kiln car park is carried out.

There will be temporary closures to some of the other Public Rights of Way during the work but any diversions or closures will be signed in advance.

Car parking changes come into force as work begins on vegetation and tree clearance in lower valley

April 29, 2021: To enable essential work for the Lower Otter Restoration Project to begin, parking east of White Bridge and passing places used for informal car-parking on South Farm Road, Budleigh Salterton, will close from May 4, 2021.

Alternative parking is suggested at Lime Kiln Car Park, Budleigh Salterton, around 1km to the south (pictured). Vehicular access will be maintained for properties and businesses at South Farm.

Imported material will be brought to the site to construct haul roads and the new raised embankment for South Farm Road.  To reduce the impact of this construction work, on people and businesses, vehicle movements will be limited to approximately 20-25 HGV return journeys each day. Most of the imported material will be brought in between May and September 2021, although additional loads will be needed throughout the project.

Vegetation and tree clearance is also due to start on May 4. This will involve several teams of contractors working from west to east. Construction phasing and project funding deadlines dictate the timing, which is further constrained by the period allowed under the necessary dormouse licence. Ecologists will accompany each clearance team. Where nesting birds or sign of bats are found these places will be protected, and the birds left to rear their chicks, with buffer zones around nests.

Vegetation clearance is essential for the success of the project and the restoration of an intertidal landscape which will become home to many new species. Over the life of the project, there will be an overall biodiversity gain for the area. The assessment criteria are available for viewing in the Environmental Statement.

It is important that the works are completed now and not later in the year to ensure the project can progress in the time allowable by the funders and also to ensure compliance with the constraints of dormice licensing. Every effort will be taken to minimise as much as possible the impact on the local environment and wildlife.

All work has been informed by wildlife surveys with ecological impacts assessed by independent ecologists and being completed in accordance with the Environmental Statement, which was an important part of planning.

All necessary protected species licenses will be in place and the work is being undertaken with the full knowledge and support of Natural England.

The vegetation clearance is a short-term activity and supervised by qualified and experienced ecologists.

The locations of key and/or rare species have been mapped or marked out and will be avoided where possible. Where this isn't possible species will be encouraged to move on, or where this isn't possible, translocated following method statements.

Long-term habitat and biodiversity gain

The restoration area will become tidal when a section of the earth embankment at the lower section of the estuary is removed in 2023. Plant species unable to tolerate inundation by salt water will then die-back and be replaced by others that are salt tolerant.  Although existing trees could be left to die in situ, experience from other sites has shown that these look unnatural in an estuarine landscape. Likewise, any hedgerows left in situ would also die, encouraging a build-up of sediment, restricting the new inter-tidal habitat creation process from developing naturally. The approach is therefore to remove all impacted habitats to facilitate this transition.  

Key and/or rare plant species impacted by the scheme will be translocated further up the Otter Valley. All hedgerows, trees and areas of scrub removed under the scheme will be compensated for, through the creation of new areas, with the long-term gain of habitat and biodiversity. All fauna not already suited to the habitat being created, including mammals and reptiles, will be encouraged, following environmental method statements, to move naturally out of the scheme area.

Although we know the timing of vegetation clearance for May is not ideal for birds this is constrained by the presence of dormice (a European protected species) and the need to carry out the works in the short period allowed by the licence required (as well as construction phasing and project funding deadlines).

Before vegetation is cleared, experienced ecologists will carefully search for nesting birds and sites used by bats. Where these are found they will be left undisturbed, with a buffer zone to ensure protection.  Qualified ecologists have already carried out pre-clearance surveys and will continue to do so before and during works.

The scheme will create over 55 hectares of rare inter-tidal habitat including mudflat and saltmarsh. However, it will result in the removal of 0.7 ha of broadleaf semi-natural woodland, 34 mature trees and 2.5km of hedgerow. Where woodland, hedgerow and tree habitats are removed these will be replaced in the lower Otter Valley outside of the project area resulting in a habitat gain of just over two hectares of broadleaf woodland and 1.5km of hedgerow. All vegetation clearance methods will follow best recognised practice to ensure that disturbance to wildlife is minimised with all necessary protected species licences in place.

The Environment Agency’s contractor for the Lower Otter Restoration Project is Kier. If you have any questions or comments about these site works, please contact Kier’s Public Liaison Officer by email at or if urgent call 07716 223056.

Start of vegetation clearance work is postponed

May 5, 2021: Following consultation with our partners and other environmental organisations over risks to nesting birds, the start of vegetation clearance work in preparation for the Lower Otter Restoration Project has been postponed.

Any works in the future will be undertaken on the basis that they will not have a risk of impacting breeding birds. The purpose of this vital project has always been to work with nature to achieve a more sustainable way of managing the Otter Estuary and its immediate surroundings, and we are committed to ensuring this continues to be a priority.   

Vegetation clearance work has been rescheduled

May11, 2021: Last week, in consultation with our partners and other organisations, we postponed the start of the vegetation clearance work in preparation for the Lower Otter Restoration Project whilst we reviewed our protocols to do the work.

We have now revised our programme and, will carry out the majority of the vegetation clearance this autumn when birds will have finished nesting and the risk of disturbance to other wildlife is greatly reduced. We will continue to work closely with our ecologists and other environmental organisations to ensure wildlife disturbance is minimised.

In the meantime, across the summer months we will be progressing work that does not adversely cause impacts to the nesting birds etc. This will include setting up the main site offices and compound, clearing discrete areas of vegetation under close supervision and starting work on the new pitch for Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club.

We remain committed to delivering this vital project, working with nature to manage the Otter Estuary and its immediate surroundings in a more sustainable way.

Public footpaths open, and cricket pitch work starts

May 25, 2021: We are currently revising the programme of work on the Lower Otter Restoration Project following our decision to postpone until this autumn vegetation clearance that might cause disturbance to nesting birds.

Whilst we are working with our team to re-schedule key elements of this vital project, we will be starting work on the new pitch for Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club.

Clinton Devon Estates were granted planning permission last year to move the cricket club from its current flood prone site at Ottermouth as part of the Lower Otter Restoration Project. The new home for the club will be a 3.5-hectare site just off the B3178 East Budleigh Road.

Elsewhere, all public footpaths are open and traffic management signage across the site will be removed until the main scheme commences. Parking restrictions along South Farm Road will be lifted and the bollards removed, except to the east of White Bridge where they will remain in place to prevent vehicle damage to the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The Lower Otter Restoration Project will work with nature to manage the Otter Estuary and its immediate surroundings in a more sustainable way. We will share our revised programme as soon as we can.

Work starts on site on key elements of Lower Otter Restoration Project

June 29 2021: We are pleased to confirm we are starting on-site with some of the key elements of the Lower Otter Restoration Project having revised our construction programme.  

Over the next few weeks the Environment Agency's contractor Kier will set up the main site compound and offices in a field adjacent to the junction of Granary Lane and South Farm Road.

From 12 July lorries will start bringing resources to the site including clay material for the construction of the raised new road embankment. This clay material will initially be stockpiled next to the site offices.

Due to construction traffic parking restrictions will be in operation along South Farm Road.  We apologise for any inconvenience during this activity.  Private and site vehicles travelling to Lime Kiln Car Park will be directed via the main road using diversion signs.

In August we will begin excavating a new system of tidal creeks between Big Bank (towards the northern end of the project area) and South Farm Road. This will include creating access points and tracks for the machinery. This work will be done without vegetation clearance being required.

Throughout the summer Kier will continue with the cricket pitch at Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club's new location just off the B3178 East Budleigh Road. This work began a few weeks ago and is progressing well as you can see from the photo here.

During this autumn we will be carrying out the main vegetation and tree clearance around the site, including at the old tip on South Farm Road (this is the work postponed from May).

Throughout construction we will keep working very closely with our ecologists, the RSPB and other organisations to ensure wildlife disturbance is minimised. This will be delivered through our revised schedule, the provision of adequate buffer areas for the works and ongoing monitoring.  

Our revised programme is:

Footpath temporarily closed as work continues on Lower Otter Restoration Project

August 23, 2021:

A popular footpath on the lower Otter estuary will be closed for several weeks as vegetation clearance and the creek excavation stage of the work gets under way.

The work is part of the Lower Otter Restoration Project in Budleigh Salterton, which will see land reclaimed from the sea 200 years ago being returned to floodplain.

Work to excavate creeks on the northern end of the site starts on Tuesday, 31 August and will take five weeks. On Wednesday, 1 September, vegetation clearance will begin and is expected to take six to eight weeks, and is being timed to be after bird nesting and dormice breeding seasons.

In order to keep people safe, the west footpath will be closed from 1 September for eight weeks. This is the footpath near the top point of Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club's pitch and the first one reached when coming down South Farm Road from East Budleigh Road. The eastern footpath will remain open from South Farm Road to the Lime Kiln car park.

It may also be necessary to prevent access to wildlife viewing platforms for short periods during the work, but marshals will be on hand to let people know if platforms are temporarily closed.

No parking is operating in South Farm Road and at Whitebridge throughout the project works, which will continue until spring 2023 when a new car park will be built off South Farm Road.

The project is part of the €26m Promoting Adaptation to Changing Coasts project, which also has a similar scheme under way in the Saâne Valley in Normandy, France. In Devon it will see current grassland created during historic reclamation work, replaced with 55 hectares of intertidal mudflat and saltmarsh, plus a net gain of more than 2 hectares of broadleaved woodland and 1.5km of hedgerow.

Marshals to help pedestrians during clearance works

September 24, 2021: An update to the Notice of Planned Work has now been displaying in all boards on the river Otter this week.

This includes advance warning that from Monday 27 September, the eastern footpath north and south of South Farm Road (Otterton footpath 1) remains open, but where vegetation clearance works will be very near to the path, marshals will direct pedestrians asking them to wait for their own safety until it is safe for them to continue.

Statement following flooding at project site

October 21, 2021: Following overnight flooding at the Lower Otter Restoration Project site, the Environment Agency has said:

"The Lower Otter Restoration Project is a partnership project seeking to adapt the downstream part of the River Otter in the face of rapidly changing climate, by connecting the Lower River Otter to its historic floodplain and creating intertidal habitat. This flooding is an example of what will happen increasingly as a result of climate change. It is an entirely natural phenomenon and has not been caused or exacerbated by project works.

"Flood waters from the River Otter rose sharply shortly after midnight peaking at 3:30am. This inundated some construction plant. We are working with our contractor, Kier, to understand why this was not moved ahead of the flooding. Plant will be moved as soon as is possible.

"Currently, flood waters resulting from heavy rainfall are unable to drain quickly in the valley due to the presence of an embankment that traps the water behind it. One of the benefits of the Lower Otter Restoration Project is that, once completed, the River Otter will be reconnected to its floodplain and the sea resulting in improved drainage.

"Once the project is in place, floods of this level will no longer sever access along the South Farm Road, flood the cricket club or threaten a former tip site to the same degree. Areas of footpath will also be raised above existing levels.

"The impact of this flooding highlights the need to adapt to climate change by moving human infrastructure out of the floodplain and make what remains more resilient to flooding. This is a key aim of the Lower Otter Restoration Project.”


The floodwater has subsided and South Farm Road is open again

October 28, 2021: The Lower Otter Restoration Project (LORP) is a partnership project seeking to adapt the downstream part of the River Otter in the face of rapidly changing climate, by connecting the Lower River Otter to its historic floodplain and creating intertidal habitat.  

The flooding last week is a dramatic example of what will happen increasingly as our climate changes. It is an entirely natural phenomenon and was not caused or exacerbated by the LORP project works.

As soon as the floodwater started to subside our contractors moved the equipment and vehicles. Most machines could be restarted and driven out of the floodwaters when water levels allowed. South Farm Road is now open and has been swept clear for residents and access to South Farm businesses as usual.  

Environment Agency pollution staff closely monitored the site clear up to ensure that the river has not been adversely affected following the flooding. We are pleased to confirm that no material pollutant release was identified.  

We are working with our contractor to learn from the event and understand why the construction plant was not moved ahead of the flooding. We are already making improvements to ensure this does not happen again at LORP or any of our other sites.

Our programme of works is being revised following the flooding, recovery and clean-up. We will keep our site noticeboards and website up to date with the latest timetable.


When complete, in spring 2023, this important climate change adaptation project will reconnect the river to its floodplain and the sea resulting in improved drainage. Floods of this level will no longer cut off access along South Farm Road, flood the cricket club or threaten the old tip site to the same degree. Areas of footpath will also be raised above existing levels.