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08 August 2022: Visitors to the area of the Lower Otter Restoration Project (LORP) can now have a virtual conversation to find out more about what is happening with the scheme, by scanning a QR code on their mobile phones.  
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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.




 

Northern creek network at Lower Otter site nearly complete

o Northern creek network largely finished

o Channels are reconnecting to historic floodplain

o The work is creating new wildlife habitats

November 30, 2021: Work to create creeks to the northern end of the Lower Otter Restoration Project site is now nearly complete.

Excavation of the network at the northern end of the site - north of South Farm Road - is now largely completed. Next spring, creeks will be excavated in the south of the site, connecting to the north under the new South Farm Road bridge.

Together, the total excavated length of the creek network already exceeds 3km. These will evolve naturally over time once connected to the Otter. One of the islands on the floodplain is also nearing completion, this will act as a refuge for birds at high tide.

Dan Boswell, Environment Agency project manager for the site, said: "When the creeks are all complete we will have a network that will reconnect the estuary to its historic floodplain.

"The creeks will be the 'veins' of the estuary, bringing new life to the valley floor, attracting a wide variety of wildlife to the wetland habitat and enabling floodwater to drain down more quickly."

The Lower Otter Restoration Project is part of the €26 million Promoting Adaptation to Changing Coasts project, which also has a similar scheme underway 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 almost three hectares of broadleaved woodland and 1.5km of hedgerow.

Noisy work and holiday break

December 14, 2021: To prepare for the construction of the new 40 metre long South Farm Road bridge, we are installing steel sheet piles to retain soil on the corner of the former tip, adjacent to South Farm Road. This is so that we can excavate the ground in preparation for the construction of the road bridge piers.

Unfortunately, piling is an activity which can be noisy, although we are doing what we can to minimise the impact on local people, visitors and businesses. The sheet piling starts this week and will last 3 weeks in total. However, all planned construction at the site will stop over Christmas and New Year from 23 December and restart Tuesday 4 January 2022.

There are also some ground investigations being carried out by South West Water in the south east area of Lime Kiln car park. These will last for approximately 6 weeks from the beginning of December.

If you have any questions or concerns about the site works, please do not hesitate to contact Kier's public liaison officer either by email at exmouth.PLO@kier.co.uk, or mobile on 07716 223056.  

Stakeholder Update - January 2022

January 21, 2022: ON SITE: 2022 has started well on the main Lower Otter Restoration Project (LORP) construction site.

The steel sheet piling is complete and excavation to enable construction of the piles and piers of the new South Farm Road bridge has started. The waste material removed from the old landfill site is being taken away for treatment and recycling.

Vegetation clearance and tree removal on the old tip is nearing completion. Large stands of the invasive plant Japanese Knotweed have been removed - a total 60m3 - (some stands remain to be treated by spraying). The team is also removing vegetation next to the Bicton Brook between Big Bank and Little Bank.  

We continue to bring in and stockpile material for the construction of the new South Farm Road embankment.

The new 40 metre span road bridge near South Farm Cottages will start to take shape with foundation piles constructed during February and March, and the piers being constructed during April to June. From April onwards we will start to build the embankment for the raised South Farm Road and other activities including excavating the southern creek network.  

South Farm Road will be raised by 2.5 metres above the floodplain delivering significant long-term benefits including improved road quality and access. However, during construction the embankment will be temporarily raised to approximately 5 to 6 metres high. This is essential to ensure that the final 2.5 metre-high structure is robust and does not settle.

During the summer we will be lowering Big Bank and Little Bank and excavating the new channel for the Budleigh Brook.

Towards the end of 2022 the new embankment will be connected to White Bridge over the River Otter (White Bridge will not be altered). A short section of temporary private road will be used for all vehicles that currently access the east-side of the River Otter to continue to do so with minimal disruption.


CRICKET CLUB SITE: The new cricket pitches are ready. Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club has redesigned the club house and expects to submit new plans to East Devon District Council (EDDC) by the end of this month.


SEWAGE OUTLET: As part of the LORP, South West Water hopes to renovate the old, combined sewage outlet that runs behind the shingle bar from Lime Kiln car park to Otter cliffs.

This ageing pipe is exposed sometimes and at risk from erosion. It also represents above ground hard engineering that we don't want associated with the shingle bar. In LORP the combined sewage outlet will be taken underground. Preparatory investigations are being carried out in Lime Kiln car park and on the cliffs at South Farm.


WILDLIFE: More wading birds and wildfowl are already being seen using the newly created freshwater habitats to rest and feed. When the embankment is breached next year saltwater will ebb and flow back into the lower valley. The rare and nature-rich salt marshes and mudflats will attract a greater range of birds and fish. We expect the resident and visiting bird populations to change again.


FOOTPATHS: Devon County Council and Clinton Devon Estates are discussing potential long-term solutions for current erosion to the public footpaths at some locations alongside the river.

Although the affected sections of footpath are outside of the LORP site boundary, the erosion is being monitored due to its potential impact on the project and contingency plans are in place if conditions deteriorate.

A planning amendment for the southerly section of the western footpath (between Lime Kiln and South Farm Road) will be submitted to EDDC by the Environment Agency in April. This was part of the delayed FAB Link project and the design will be broadly the same as FAB Link’s approved but now lapsed planning permission. This will reduce the flooding of the footpath and provide an improved path surface. We will share the design details in due course.

If you have any questions or concerns about the site works, please do not hesitate to contact Kier (the Environment Agency's contractor) either by email at exmouth.PLO@kier.co.uk, or mobile on 07716 223056.