Another significant milestone has been reached in The Lower Otter Restoration Project. On Friday 24th November, the brand new 70 metre ‘Elizabeth Bridge’ was officially opened by on. Charles Fane Trefusis of Clinton Devon Estates and Mark Rice, Environment Agency Area Director.

As part of the project, the footbridge reconnects the South West Coast Path near Budleigh Salterton, replacing the previous embankment which was removed in order to reconnect the River Otter and its historic floodplain. The bridge’s name was suggested by a member of the public and chosen as a fitting way to commemorate the late Queen. 

The new bridge also helps to enable further accessibility for the area, with some of the first users of the bridge being disabled ramblers with mobility aids and scooters. The area is becoming increasingly accessible for a range of groups, enabling the site to be used for leisure, health and wellbeing. The Budleigh Runners, the local running club, were the first to cross and complete a circular route, thanks to the new and improved footpaths. Ramblers and young children followed them, all keen to make the most of the updated area. 

Lorna Sheriff,  SW Coast Path National Trail Officer said: “We welcome the new bridge and improvements to the walking network in the lower Otter Valley. This is a great project showing how to adapt land management, so it is better for people and wildlife. Building resilience to the impacts of climate change is a growing issue along the South West Coast Path.”

Dan Boswell, Environment Agency Project Manager said: “The project has made public rights of way and the road as well as other important local infrastructure far more resilient to rising sea levels and floods. This was demonstrated only last month with Storm Ciaran, such a storm would previously have seen the road and footpaths flood for days on end.  As it was, South Farm Road was unaffected by flooding and the footpaths were back in action the day after the storm. Today’s footbridge opening represents the final chapter in a project which seeks to enhance the experience of wildlife and people using the Lower Otter site.”

Clare James, Head of Commercial, Land and Tourism Clinton Devon Estates said: “Clinton Devon Estates are delighted that local runners and walkers are so keen to make use of the re-opened route and that the bridge name also came from a public suggestion. The bridge opening is a tangible milestone in the project that has taken over a decade to conceive, develop and deliver and it demonstrates how the LORP will deliver a sustainable environmental future for the valley, whilst maintaining vital public amenity.”

Since its beginning, the project has improved access to 3.3km of footpaths, raised 2.5k of footpaths, constructed over 600m of pavement and created 500m of new public right of way footpath. Throughout the project, 23,000 trees have been planted on the site, most of which are on the site of a former domestic tip which has been transformed into a pleasant green space. 

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