An operation to remove the redundant beach steps from Happisburgh beach got under way this morning.

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This photo, taken by Happisburgh resident Jim Whiteside, shows lifting gear in place on the clifftop connected to the steps, their base under water.

North Norfolk District Council’s decision to remove the steps has sparked local controversy with more than 1,600 people signing a petition calling for them to be reinstated as a better beach link than the replacement, a sand ramp.

The council argues that the current rate of coastal erosion, which caused the steps to become unusable, would make re-instatement unviable. At the request of Happisburgh Parish Council, the steps will be stored on a local landowner’s property in case that situation changes.

Mr Whiteside said two men were on the steps, unbolting sections which were each then being lifted on to the clifftop.

He added that he was in favour of the steps’ removal.

“It wasn’t feasible to keep the steps in their current location, nor to move them while the cliff is moving at such a rate,” he said.

“I see it as a very positive move that they will be cleaned up and stored within the village, with the plan being to hopefully reinstate them when the cliff stabilises.

Mr Whiteside said the area of beach where swimming was not advised was restricted to a stretch between the steps and the new earth ramp.

He added: “We have a superb beach to the south of the village, accessible by the ramp adjacent to the wonderful new car park and, judging by the numbers of cars parked there, Happisburgh is becoming a prime destination for visiting the coast.”

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