March 14 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Please don’t let this happen again, prime minister.
That was the message to David Cameron from the people of Hemsby as they called for assurances their coast will be protected by permanent defences.
In an open letter to Mr Cameron, the people of Hemsby beach – where seven seafront homes and the old lifeboat shed were torn down during last week’s tidal surge – have asked why he has “allowed Hemsby to be totally unprotected when you know the solution to the problem?”
“Mr Cameron, the people of Norfolk are grateful for your visit to Wells-Next-The-Sea on December 9... to survey the damage brought about by the storm surge,” they said.
“The most far reaching impact of the surge happened at Hemsby, so it is with sadness we note that neither you nor (environment secretary) Owen Paterson visited our damaged village to see for yourselves how our total lack of any sea defence at all allowed homes to be taken by the sea.
“We fully appreciate this was an exceptional tide, the largest in 60 years, but our total lack of any defence at all exacerbated the level of loss and damage.”
During the visit to Wells on Monday, Mr Paterson said the government will be increasing budgets on flood defences and “spending more than any previous government on flood defences”.
Keen to know how much, when, and where this promised money would be spent, the residents and businesses behind the letter have challenged Mr Cameron to take action in Hemsby “before it is too late”.
A community campaign, Save Hemsby Coastline, already spent the summer fund-raising for their beach and raised a total of £18,000 to buy DIY sea defences. Volunteers had put down 200m of gabion defences – metal cages filled with rocks, when last Thursday’s storm hit.
For Lacon Arms landlord Lorna Bevan-Thompson, a dedicated Hemsby campaigner whose family has lived and run businesses at the east coast resort for generations, what happened last week changed the game.
“This is our home and our heritage,” she said.
“Why should that be taken away just because the government won’t stop and do a little bit of preservation for us.
“People have lost their homes through no fault of their own. It has been snatched away from them through no fault of their own.”
While the Shoreline Management Plan for Winterton to Scratby is managed realingment, Mrs Bevan-Thompson believes only groynes will give Hemsby beach a fighting chance.
Groynes, built at angles, are designed to absorb the impact of the tide and direct drifting sand back onto the beach.
“Once the dunes are gone, we can’t bring them back,” said Mrs Bevan-Thompson.
“We must act now.”
What do you think? Write, with your full contact details, to EDP letters editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.