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East Devon District Council Annual and Biennial Cliff Inspections

Client: East Devon District Council

Since 2017, JGP have been employed by East Devon District Council to undertake annual and biennial cliff inspections at various coastal sites within their local authority area.

The risk from rock falls is an ongoing challenge, especially with members of the public having the potential to approach the cliffs. Although warning signs are in place and the public is encouraged to enjoy the cliffs from a safe distance, rock falls present a hazard to beach users.

These cliff inspections are aimed at managing the risk to public safety and are carried out as part of the Council’s beach management plans. The regular monitoring of the cliffs can highlight any changes in their stability and enable regular maintenance and remedial works to be carried out, thereby mitigating the risk of a large-scale landslip.

The cliff assessments comprise either tactile inspections including light maintenance works using rope access techniques or just visual inspections.

The annual rope access inspections take place at four cliff sites including:

  • Sidmouth – Connaught Gardens Cliffs
  • Beer – East Beach Cliffs
  • Budleigh Salterton – East Beach Cliffs
  • Seaton – West Walk Cliffs.

These inspections are carried out with East Devon District Councils appointed specialist contractor Abcas UK Ltd.  The inspections include removing loose unstable soils & rock, keeping vegetation in check and visual assessments on the condition of existing stabilisation measures, such as rock anchors and netting.

Visual inspections are carried out biennially at:

  • Sidmouth – Riverside House/Angel Lodge & the River Sid
  • Sidmouth – Alma Bridge Footpath
  • Sidmouth – East Beach Cliff
  • Seaton – West Walk to Seaton Hole
  • Exmouth – Madeira Walk
  • Exmouth – The Plantation
  • Beer – Charlie’s Yard.

Both the rope access and visual inspections record any changes in cliff stability as well as any identified risks. Recommendations are made for any further stabilisation or remedial works that are required for the forthcoming year or longer-term improvement works.  Stabilisation measures can range from maintaining drainage to prevent concentrated water flows or increased pore water pressures; controlling vegetation to maintain healthy root systems over soils whilst preventing invasive roots penetrating rock joints; installing (or replacing deteriorated) rock anchors and netting, or forming concrete revetments/facings.