Initial Consultation Responses in for the Lower Otter Project

Clich here to find out more about the project which would see us working with nature to let the river move as it did two hundred years ago, before embankments were built to hold it back and create fresh farmland. Over hundreds of years, the activities of mankind have changed the valley and estuary of the River Otter. Some of these modifications, in particular the ageing embankment alongside the estuary, are reaching the end of their useful life.  Our options are to continue to spend ever-increasing amounts of money maintaining and repairing the estuary, or allowing the river to act in a more natural way, as it did hundreds of years ago, before man intervened. We need to act, because we believe that doing nothing would not be responsible stewardship of the land in our care.

The restoration project would see gaps created in embankments alongside the river, allowing salty water to flow in and out of the marshes as the tides rise and fall. These gaps would also allow floodwater to drain away more easily, reducing damage caused by flooding.

The support of local communities is vital and over the summer months we held a number of formal and informal events where we spoke to over 100 people. The response was very positive, with most supportive of the project.

One issue raised at the consultations was access to South Farm Road and the homes and businesses to the east of the estuary. Currently the road floods when the marshes are underwater, but the restoration proposals as they stand would mean tidal flooding would affect the road more frequently for short periods.  As a result of concerns raised at the consultations we are looking at how South Farm Road might be altered to allow unrestricted access during normal tides.

Some people felt that simpler, less costly solutions would be better. Ideas put forward included dredging, or new sluice gates in the embankment. Unfortunately, while these may get flood water away more quickly they don’t do anything to reconnect the floodplain upstream, nor would they provide other benefits such as habitat restoration or securing public access.

For a brief summary of the consultation responses please click here.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the consultation exercise. We want to make sure that the Lower Otter Restoration Project delivers what most people want and their views will help shape it. Obviously there are some concerns and we are working to address these.

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