A major construction project is under way to prevent the cliffs in Corton crumbling into the sea.

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Since November, a team working under the Waveney Pathfinder Project has been building a new drainage system which is designed to prevent rainwater causing cliff slippage.

As reported in The Journal last week, a large stretch of the Corton seawall promenade has been closed to the public after two cliff slippages – one of which blocked the walkway and smashed safety barriers.

This erosion-hit stretch of coast has seen several slippages as rainwater cannot penetrate a layer of clay within the cliffs, and this causes an over-lying sandy layer to give way when it becomes saturated.

The drainage system – which comprises five 12m boreholes – will see rain diverted past the clay layer to another permeable layer beneath it, allowing the water to safely drain away.

The new scheme has been funded by the government through the £1.5m Pathfinder scheme, which is led by Waveney District Council, and it is hoped it will be completed by March. It will cover more than half a mile of clifftop, including the Azure Seas Caravan Park, The Waterside Holiday Park and Corton Coastal Village.

David Savill, the project manager for the Pathfinder project, said: “Pathfinder is all about helping the community adapt to the effects of coastal erosion. It is not about sea defences; it is about adapting to the situation.

“The drainage system is there to alleviate the conditions caused by excess amounts of surface water that cause the cliff to slip down.”

The drainage work is being carried out by PJ Spillings, of Lowestoft, and is being supervised by consultant engineer Alastair Tindle.

Mr Tindle said: “We are boring down to 12m into the Corton sand formation to bypass the sandy clay, which causes the cliff to slippage as it cannot hold any water.”

The initial survey work was carried out 18 months ago by Jonathan Hudson, of Ipswich-based Haydn Evans Consulting. He said: “It (the drainage work) is a realistic and very sensible solution to the problem that is posed.”

The Waveney Pathfinder Project was set up using £1.5m of government funding in 2009 and, as well as seeking to resolve problems in Corton, it is working to resolve issues posed by ongoing coastal erosion at Easton Bavents.

●About half a mile of the promenade at Corton has been sealed off for safety reasons after the two recent cliff slippages. This includes the section from Bakers Score to Cliff House. Mr Savill said Waveney was commissioning an engineer’s report to see what should be done about re-opening it to the public. He said: “When we have received the report we will make a decision then.”

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