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Shattered sea defences listing towards the sea as beach drops 9ft

PUBLISHED: 15:30 04 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:32 05 April 2018

The gabions at Scratby are leaning over and will have to be repaired. Photo: Liz Coates

The gabions at Scratby are leaning over and will have to be repaired. Photo: Liz Coates

Archant

Shattered and listing, sea defences at Scratby have taken a battering this winter in their first real test since they were installed two years ago.

The gabions listing towards the sea where they meet Hemsby's hexagonal blocks. Photo: Liz CoatesThe gabions listing towards the sea where they meet Hemsby's hexagonal blocks. Photo: Liz Coates

The scheme, championed by Scratby Erosion Group (Sceg) was a second-best solution but looks to have done its job.

Although leaning over with rocks escaping their cages and spilling onto the shore the gabions (rock-filled cages) had mostly stood up to the storm, group chairman Robert Stephenson said this week.

“The sea will get at the back and nibble away and undermine them. It is what it is. Rocks were our preferred option but at a difference of £3m.

“Our defences have done what they are supposed to do, in that sense I am pleased.

The gabions at Scratby slumped after this winter's battering. Photo: Liz CoatesThe gabions at Scratby slumped after this winter's battering. Photo: Liz Coates

“At the Newport end they have been slightly undermined and leaning towards the sea and the council will have to remove them or replace them if they are dangerous.”

MORE: End in sight for scheme to protect the coastline

Just a few weeks ago before the Beast from the East the cages were level with the beach. Now there is a 9ft drop.

Although what had happened at Scratby was dramatic Mr Stephenson was keen to shift the focus to neighbouring Hemsby where the situation had reached crisis point with homes demolished before they could slide down the dunes and eight still at risk.

Just a few weeks ago the beach was level with the gabion cages at Scratby. Photo: Liz CoatesJust a few weeks ago the beach was level with the gabion cages at Scratby. Photo: Liz Coates

MORE: Crumbling coastline at Hemsby and Winterton is focus of £35,000 study

Chris Hayward, 54, who regularly walks his dog along the stretch said multiple paths down to the beach were now impassable.

The stretch from Scratby to Hemsby used to be walkable at all times of the tide but was now cut off by creeping waters meeting retreating dunes.

He said the gabions had survived the first storms but sustained winds and high tides had seen them collapse in the last 36 hours.

Some of the hexagons had also been battered apart.

Bags of concrete put down after the 2013 storm surge at the base of the dunes were now 40ft away.

Meanwhile fencing put up to stop people climbing up the dunes was now strewn all over the beach, exposed nails posing a hazard.

The dune was now the last one protecting the Broads.

He said: “The sand will probably come back but if we keep getting these easterly winds, who knows when?”

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