A ground-breaking project to help the lower Otter Valley adapt to climate change and create an internationally important wildlife reserve has been submitted to planners.
If approved, the Lower Otter Restoration Project (LORP) will reconnect the River Otter to its historic floodplain and return the lower Otter Valley to a more natural condition. The scheme will create 55 hectares of mudflats, saltmarsh and other valuable estuarine habitats.
LORP is a partnership between the Environment Agency, local landowner Clinton Devon Estates and the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust that currently manages the estuary.
The Environment Agency has submitted plans to East Devon District Council on behalf of LORP as the £15 million project enters its final phase. Success rests on the project gaining planning approval. A marine licence application has also been submitted to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). If successful, work will start next year and be completed by spring 2023.
The Lower Otter project is largely funded by the European Interreg programme through an initiative called Promoting Adaptation to Changing Coasts (PACCo). It is partnered with a similar project in the Saâne Valley in Normandy, France. Both schemes aim to demonstrate that early adaptation to climate change brings greater benefits than a delayed response or inaction. If successful, the adaptation model for these two projects will be rolled out to other locations in the UK and France.