Essential cliff safety work is underway at Budleigh Salterton to remove an unstable 15 metre high sandstone pinnacle which has formed following many decades of weather erosion.
Contractors working for the landowner Clinton Devon Estates, are using ropes to abseil from the clifftop near Steamer Steps, to enable them to use specialist equipment to carefully fragment the pinnacle from its peak, in an exercise that is expected to take up to five days.
The work is being carried out under special licence from Natural England as the red cliffs form part of the area’s Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Estate Surveyor Clare James from Clinton Devon Estates explained: “The pinnacle is the equivalent height of a four storey building and around 8 meters wide and due to ongoing erosion over many years it has become unsafe. Recent cliff survey work recommended that the pinnacle was removed under controlled conditions. Due to the SSSI designation in the area, we have been granted special consent from Natural England.”
A team of three rope access specialists from the Weston Super-Mare based firm Abcas (UK) Ltd began the cliff stabilisation work on Monday. Adrian Ison expects the work to last between three to five days. He said: “We will abseil down from the top and using a pneumatic breaker we will begin to chop-up the pinnacle. Until we begin work, we won’t know how loose the sandstone is. In some cases, if it’s loose enough, we will be able to use crow bars to fragment it.”
The area around the pinnacle will be closed to public for the duration of the work.