The Lower Otter Estuary is a very special place. It is home to local people and businesses. It provides habitat for a wide variety of breeding and wintering bird species, and it is enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors each year.
But this coastal community, like many others, faces growing challenges due to climate change. As the oceans warm up, they take up more space and sea levels rise. We are also seeing more extreme storms and rainfall events which increase the intensity and erosional power of rivers and the sea.
The Lower Otter Restoration 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 for future generations in the face of a rapidly changing climate.
We are examining the possibility, both practically and financially, of a managed realignment scheme where the River Otter meets the sea near Budleigh Salterton in East Devon. The project is being considered because the existing 200-year-old sea defences are now starting to fail and are becoming increasingly hard to maintain. This is already impacting on public infrastructure, local businesses and homes, and recreational facilities. The project is in the process of securing sufficient funding as well as planning and other consents to allow us to move towards implementing the proposals.
The major partners in the Lower Otter Restoration Project include Clinton Devon Estates, who own the land around the estuary, and the Environment Agency, the government body which has responsibility for improving resilience to climate change, flood defence, increasing biodiversity and improving habitats and water quality.
Find out more about the challenges facing the Lower Otter Estuary, managed realignment and the timeline for this project.