The footbridge is part of a series of access improvements that will take place over the autumn under the Lower Otter Restoration Project. The project is working with local people and partner organisations to adapt and enhance the downstream part of the River Otter, its estuary and its immediate surroundings in the face of a rapidly changing climate.
The South West Coast Path will be temporarily diverted to enable construction of the new footbridge and Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club will be relocated to a safer location above the floodplain.
The dry summer has seen the scheme progress well, said the project team. Significant progress has been made on preparing and consolidating a new raised and flood-free route ready for construction and building a road bridge under which tidal waters will flow. Work has also been carried out on the lowering of the Big and Little Banks at the north of the scheme. As a result, the project now turns its attention to the very southern end of the site, preparing the way for the reconnection of the historic floodplain with the Otter River and its estuary via a breach in the existing earth embankment.
The 70m-long, fibre reinforced polymer footbridge will be constructed in the location of the future breach to ensure continuity of the South West Coast Path. This will provide a more accessible, all-season route through the raising of the 900m-long footpath on the western edge of the valley.
Above: Longitudinal section of the footbridge
Dan Boswell of the Environment Agency said: “The new footbridge and improved footpath will mean visitors will be able to take in better views all year round of the surrounding natural habitats and diverse wildlife that will be attracted to the restored wetlands.”
The Lower Otter Restoration Project is an intertidal habitat creation project delivered by the Environment Agency in partnership with the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust and Clinton Devon Estates. Kier is the project’s contractor.