Exmouth Tidal Defence Scheme Information Page

Closes 30 Sep 2021

Opened 1 Apr 2019


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

The Environment Agency is working 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 are we doing?

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

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

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

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

Defences will be 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

April 2021 
After Easter the closure will be moved to the east side of Alexandra Terrace Junction to complete the works between the Junction and the Premier Inn. A section of Alston Terrace adjacent to the Grove Pub will be closed for 4-6 weeks. The lower walkway at Mamhead slipway will be opened.

The flood gates will be installed in July 2021 and the road closures reopened before the school holidays. The Estuary View car park will also be reopened. 

It is anticipated that the removal of site offices & stores at Royal Avenue Lorry Park will happen in August 2021 and final landscaping work will take place in November 2021.


Construction work on the Exmouth Tidal Defence began in June 2019. The Environment Agency’s schedule included a pause in construction to re-open roads and clear visible construction for the busy summer and autumn tourist season. 

Work restarted in January and includes strengthening the lower walkway of the sea wall between Morton Crescent west and Temple Steps opposite Alexandra Terrace Junction, new drainage outfalls through the sea wall, reconfiguring the Alexandra Terrace Junction, and highways accommodation works for floodgates and installation of floodgates at Esplanade East (Premier Inn), Esplanade West (the Grove), Alston Terrace and Alexandra Terrace Junction.

The Environment Agency and contractors will work closely with Devon County Council Highways at Alexandra terrace junction and across the Esplanade on the installation of flood gates. From January sections of the Esplanade Road will be closed with signed diversions in place. A route through for cyclists and pedestrians will be maintained if it is safe to do so.


Planning permission for the Exmouth Tidal Defence Scheme was granted by East Devon District Council, the local planning authority, in early January 2019.

Two specific areas of the project, Morton Crescent and Alexandra Terrace Junction, were granted outline planning whilst details were worked up. 

The reserved matters planning application for Morton Crescent was submitted on 13 March 2019. Full planning permission was granted on 11 June 2019, allowing access to this site for the construction of a new flood wall (on the line of the existing wall) as well as pedestrian flood gates and landscaping. The planning application summary can be viewed here.

The reserved matters planning application for the new flood defences across Alexandra Terrace Junction was submitted on 31 May 2019. Full planning permission was granted on 27 August 2019 for the installation of new flood walls and gates, and associated landscaping for the flood defence works. 

The approved plans include a new setback flood wall and changes to the existing road layout which will reduce the traffic access points to and from The Esplanade and popular sea front, to one (there are currently two). As well as providing benefits to reduce flooding, this more simplified and defined design will also improve road safety.

The planning application summary can be viewed here.


Team Van Oord site offices can be found at the north end of Royal Avenue long stay car park.

Key programme dates are as follows:

August 2019                  

Work continues on defence wall and revetment at Royal Avenue, piling and gabions at Camperdown Creek and improvements to the sea wall along the seaward side of The Esplanade. 

September 2019

Work to start on secondary defences and associated drainage on the north side of The Esplanade between The Grove and Premier Inn. 

For some of the work to proceed, the road will need to be closed in sections between The Grove, along Morton Crescent, Alexandra Terrace Junction and past the Clock Tower up to the Premier Inn.

May/June 2020

The Team Van Oord site office and compound at the north end of Royal Avenue will be taken down and removed. The area will be returned to use as part of the long stay car park.

Work on the tidal defences will stop over the summer holiday period to minimise disruption for residents and visitors. The road will be re-opened along The Esplanade.

January 2021

Construction will restart with a focus on Alexandra Terrace Junction and the improved road layout, providing benefits to reduce flooding and also road safety.

April 2021
Phase 2 Esplanade road closure—After Easter the closure will be moved to the east side of Alexandra Terrace Junction to complete the works between the Junction and the Premier Inn.
A section of Alston Terrace adjacent to the Grove Pub will be closed for 4-6 weeks.
Opening of the lower walkway at Mamhead slipway.

July 2021
Installation of flood gates and completion of works in the highway and removal of road closure before school holiday period.
Opening of Estuary View car park.

August 2021
Removal of site offices & stores at Royal Avenue Lorry Park.

November 2021
Landscaping works at the Imperial Hotel and Clock Tower and Estuaryside adjacent to Royal Avenue , including planting of trees along Royal Avenue.

Scheme completion December 2021.

The Environment Agency has programmed work to minimise disruption as much as possible whilst work is carried out. We will continue to work with East Devon District Council to listen to the feedback from residents, business and others who are interested during the design and construction phases.

Traffic Management

We are making every effort to minimise our impact on residents and visitors to Exmouth while we work on the new tidal defences. However, there is an ongoing need to manage traffic to allow us safe working areas and to protect the public from harm.

Please view our monthly newsletters (below on this page) for latest information about traffic restrictions which may affect you.

Stay informed 

We will continue to update this page with the latest information to keep you informed about the scheme. 

You can also read our newsletter for progress on the construction of the scheme. You will find it below on this page or alternatively, please email exmouth.PLO@kier.co.uk to join our mailing list. 

Until the scheme is built, Exmouth remains at a high risk of flooding. You can improve your resilience to flooding by:

This page contains information for awareness purposes only and is not part of a consultation. If you would like to provide feedback on how useful the information is, please download the feedback form below and return it to DCISenquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk



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