During the winter storms in early 2018, significant damage was caused to the A379 Slapton Line which runs between Slapton and Strete Gate, flanked by sea, beach and Slapton Ley.
In early March 2018, Storm Emma brought easterly gales, high tides and strong waves making the road impassable by damaging the road surface and increasing the vulnerability of its structure. Urgent work was needed to restore the road surface and reinstate access, the repairs and realignment have now successfully been completed and the road has been re-opened to traffic.
The opening of the new road has reconnected the communities of Slapton and Strete Gate and restored full access to Slapton Ley Nature Reserve and Field Study Centre.
In July, work started on realigning the southern section of the road, additional work was carried out around the junction at Sands Road, moving the road inland by up to 10m. At points along the stretch of damaged road, it has been moved up to 20m inland of its previous line, this has tied the road into previous realignment work which had been carried out.
Work was started on the northern section of damaged road later in the summer after planning permission was granted. Because the damage to this section of road was more severe than first thought, new plans were submitted to move the road further North and West than previous plans allowed. This realignment work towards Strete Gate has seen the road moved inland by 17m, again ensuring the work ties in with the previously realigned section.
The realignment work around Slapton Ley has not only reinstated access and restored the damaged road but has also moved the road away from the vulnerable coastline, providing as much of a barrier from the beach that could be achieved given the restriction of this unique location.
Whilst work was carried out on the road a UXO radar search was undertaken, this uncovered 13 items including bullet casings and supports for barbed wire, all the items discovered were excavated from the site. Because of the roads close proximity to a National Nature Reserve an ecologist was on site to ensure that wildlife and their environment was kept safe.
If you travel along the newly realigned A379 you will pass by Slapton Ley, the largest, natural, freshwater lake in South West England. The lake is 1.5 miles long, surrounded woodland, marshes and reedbeds, and is separated from the sea by beach and the new road. Extra care was required during the works as the area is not only a Site of Special Scientific Interest but in 1993 was declared a National Nature Reserve. The 490 acres reserve is a great destination for wildlife enthusiasts and families looking to find out more about the diverse animals, insects and plant life which call the reserve home.