Adapting to change at South Milton Sands

The beach at South Milton Sands

South Milton Sands is a much-loved beach in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in South Devon.


We acquired the land at South Milton Sands in 1980. In 1990 a wooden piling sea defence was built to protect the land behind from erosion.
By 2002 this was reaching the end of its natural life span and we consulted with the local community and a wide range of stakeholders to find a more sustainable solution to deal with coastal change. Switching from hard coastal defences (which have a limited life and effectiveness), we adopted a natural process-based approach.
In 2008 we regenerated an existing dune system which we hoped would flex and adjust with rising sea levels and coastal change. Rotten timber piling and many tons of rubble and waste were removed and new parking and access created. The project was supported locally with hundreds of volunteers helping to plant marram grass to establish the dunes. The project was viewed as a great success.

Storms of 2014

Six years on, the dramatic combination of storm force winds and extreme high tides has significantly damaged the dune system and access track that lies behind it.
Richard Snow, Countryside Manager, explains, 'We are committed to public access and protecting the beach for public enjoyment. However we also need to recognise that coastal change is something we have to accept and adapt to. We now need to work with local people to develop a plan for the area which properly reflects the future impacts of coastal change.
If you would like to be involved or kept informed, please email us or call 01752 346585.