Funding to plan the future of the Slapton Line in the event of further damaging storms has been secured by the Slapton Line Partnership (SLP).
The SLP are delighted to announce that funding has been secured from the Environment Agency, South Hams District Council (SHDC) and Devon County Council to allow for the recruitment of an Adaptation Manager.
The purpose of this new post will be to work closely with the community and the Partnership to help to ease traffic issues and to create positive changes to prepare for the future loss of the Slapton Line A379 road.
The post will be hosted by the South Devon Area of National Beauty (AONB).
A study has shown that there is now no room left to move the road following the severe storm of 2018 which devastated 700m of the highway and made it necessary to move it up 20m closer to the edge of Slapton Ley. Though it is impossible to predict when damage will occur, sea level rise and changing weather patterns will lead to the road being increasingly at risk.
As a result the Partnership have had to create a new plan of action for the future and accepts that, if another storm badly damages the road and it can’t be easily repaired, the road is unlikely to be replaced again.
The Partnership knows that this would have a huge impact on local communities and road users, so they have created an Adaptation Plan. This has been informed by suggestions from the community at a series of recent workshops to reduce the impact and make changes to help the communities thrive after the road has gone.
Significant funding has already been used to improve passing places and road surfaces along alternative routes and some improvements will continue to be made.
Cllr Julian Brazil, SHDC Ward Member for Stokenham, said: “If the road goes then we have to have a plan B. It is vital to support the local businesses and local communities. This funding will help us prepare for the future. We hope for the best but we must plan for the worst.”
Cllr Richard Foss, SHDC Ward Member for Allington and Strete, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to help fund the Adaptation Manager. We do need to adapt to changing circumstances and having someone on the ground to support our communities and businesses is a great start to moving forward. I can assure residents that I will do my level best to support them wherever I can.”
The role will develop and share the plan through community engagement, look at improving tourism to the area and support businesses on how they can adapt to the changing area. They will also look at how they can improve road signage and access to the area’s villages and tourist destinations. Car parking and public transport to accommodate residents and visitors will also be investigated.
Martin Davies, Environment Agency’s, Flood and Coastal Risk Management Advisor, said: “We recognise the potential impact of change along this important stretch of coastline and continue to support Slapton Line Partnership and communities to adapt to coastal change.
“The Adaptation Manager is an important role, supported by the South West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, to help manage change locally and to learn lessons for other sites which could be affected by the impacts of coastal and climate change.”
Devon County Council Leader John Hart said: “The re-aligned route of the Slapton Line is much more resilient, however the location will always be vulnerable to the elements. Clearly we hope the road will be in place for many years to come but it makes sense that the Partnership considers how to prepare for the possibility of any damage in the future.”
For more information on the Slapton Line Partnership, please visit: www.slaptonline.org