Exmouth Tidal Defence Scheme Information Page

Closed 22 Apr 2024

Opened 1 Apr 2019


The Exmouth Tidal Defence Scheme is a £12 million scheme to improve flood defences in Exmouth. 

The Environment Agency worked in partnership with East Devon District Council to deliver the scheme which will reduce the risk of tidal flooding to over 1,400 residential and 400 commercial properties. 

Why is a new tidal defence scheme needed?

Exmouth has a long history of tidal flooding. The worst recorded flooding was in 1960 when Exmouth flooded twice, with nearly 1000 properties affected. 

The need for a new tidal defence scheme was identified as part of a flood risk management strategy for the whole of the Exe Estuary.

The Environment Agency has been working in collaboration with East Devon District Council since 2015 to develop the scheme and build the business case for funding; this culminated in approval of £12 million of government funding in 2017. 

East Devon District Council is also contributing to the project, and will maintain the defences built on council-owned land in the future.

Following analysis of possible flood scenarios for today, and in the future, it was recommended that Exmouth’s existing defences should be improved in the short term.

After gathering feedback from local public consultation in 2016, the Environment Agency concluded that flood risk should be reduced from the current 1-in-25-year risk (4% chance of flooding in any year) to 1-in-200-year (0.5% chance of flooding in any year).

The impacts of climate change and sea level rise were included in the Environment Agency's analysis.

Following a review of the outline design and consultation feedback, the Environment Agency's approach is to build improved defences that can be easily improved in the future. Once the scheme is complete, further tidal defence improvements should not be needed until 2045.

Exmouth, East Devon, during stormy conditions in 2014.

What have we done?

The scheme was designed and built by civil engineering contractor Team Van Oord (a joint venture between Royal HaskoningDHV and Kier). The scheme covers three areas of Exmouth:

Area A: The Royal Avenue (on the estuary side of Exmouth)

Work here involved raising flood embankments and walls between the outfall of the Withycombe Brook and Imperial Recreation Ground.

Area B: Camperdown Creek (around the ‘gut’)

Defences were raised between the Imperial Recreation Ground and Camperdown Terrace.

Area C: The Esplanade 

Work along the sea front includes the Esplanade from Mamhead slipway in the west, to between the clock tower and Premier Inn to the east. It involves work to the existing seawall, improving drainage for water to drain back out to sea, provision of flood gates and new set-back defences along the landward side of the Esplanade. 

This will mean that areas of the Esplanade and highway will still be inundated during storms, however, flood water will be stopped from flowing down nearby roads by new defences.

Latest update

Exmouth tidal defence test a great success
The Environment Agency was joined by East Devon District Council and local volunteers to test the procedure for closing the flood gates - read more here.

Stay informed 

You can read our newsletters which were published regularly during the construction of the scheme. You will find copies below on this page.

Exmouth Tidal Defence Scheme reduces the chance of flooding from the sea. Exmouth remains at risk of flooding from rivers and surface water. You can improve your resilience to flooding by:

What happens next



  • Businesses
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Community groups
  • Lead Local Flood Authorities
  • Local Risk Management Authorities
  • Flood Resilience Forums
  • Town and parish councils
  • Regional Flood and Coastal Committees
  • Internal Drainage Boards


  • Flood management
  • Coastal management