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200k bill for Storm Dennis after historic bridge damaged

Grade Two listed Austin’s Bridge at Buckfastleigh. Photo: Devon County Council

The clean up from Storm Dennis will cost Devon at least £200,000, according to the county council which has been responding to a number of landslides and incidents.

It's been confirmed the Grade Two listed Austin’s Bridge at Buckfastleigh has been damaged.

It's believed the structure - which dates back to 1749 - was struck by a large tree after it fell into the River Dart.

A spokesperson for the council said: "The bridge has been shut by Devon County Council as a precautionary measure after the 'cut water' defences on two of its piers were partially damaged. 

"It’s thought the structure, which dates from 1749, was possibly struck by a large tree that had washed into the River Dart during the storm.

"Teams are on site to investigate the impact on the structure and the county council is working with contractor Marine Civil Solutions Ltd to install temporary protective measures to enable the bridge to re-open as soon as possible.

"The B3213 Dunsford Hill and B3193 Teign Valley Road near Trusham Quarry remain closed due to landslips. 

"Around 110 tonnes of earth has been removed from the Teign Valley landslip, but around another 80 tonnes still needs to be cleared. It’s hoped both will re-open by the end of this week.

"Marine Parade at Shaldon also remains closed due to a landslip, while temporary lights are in place on the A386 Landcross and on the A377 Newbridge while debris cleared from the roads."

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, added: "Our initial estimates suggest that the two recent storms have caused around £200,000 of damage, but the longer term costs may be considerably more once we have assessed the landslips and damage to any of our structures such as Austin’s Bridge. 

"Public safety is paramount, which is why we’ve taken the decision to close Austin’s Bridge as a precautionary measure. We want to re-open it as soon as possible, but we have to be certain that it’s safe.

"The water levels are dropping which will enable our bridge engineers to establish the full extent of the damage to the piers. 

"Large protective sheets are being placed in front of the piers in order to prevent any further damage to the structure. We’ve done that successfully in other parts of the county after the storms in 2012, so hopefully it will work at Austin’s Bridge."

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