December 5 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Homes on the east Norfolk coast have come “perilously” close to falling in the sea after yet more beach was claimed by Mother Nature.
The public has been warned to stay away from a section of Hemsby beach after a man living in The Marrams had to leave his home.
The private tenant, believed to be an elderly resident, has been moved to temporary accommodation in Great Yarmouth after days of stormy weather took their toll on the already crumbling coastline.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council has begun an assessment of Hemsby’s coastline to determine if more structures are at risk. Environmental health officers and building control surveyors said that the empty house is certainly a danger to anyone walking along that part of the privately owned beach.
Whether or not it can be saved, however, was up to the owner, the council said.
A few metres away on the beach itself, so much sand has disappeared that concrete anti-tank structures and bundles of steel have been exposed for the first time in more than 25 years.
Hemsby’s lifeboat shed has been abandoned – its independent crew unable to launch with a drop of more than 10ft separating them from the beach.
At nearby Newport, the beach is now inaccessible and there are concerns the sea could even break through the dunes further up the coast near Winterton valley.
Earlier this year, the Geoffrey Watling Trust, which owns Hemsby beach, agreed to let people of Hemsby push ahead with a DIY sea defence scheme. Villagers and businesses are putting 1,000-plus concrete blocks along the bottom of the dunes to soften the impact of the tides crashing into a 1.5km stretch of The Marrams.
They have so far raised £18,000 and want to complete it before winter sets in. But the significant damage caused by the recent heavy rain, high winds and stormy seas has served as a reminder that time is running out.
“Parts of the coastline at Hemsby, which is privately owned, suffered considerable coastal erosion due to the weather experienced at the end of last week,” said a spokesman for Great Yarmouth Borough Council.
“On Friday, environmental health officers and building control surveyors visited a property at The Marrams which had become perilously close to the edge of the cliff.
“A private tenant living at the address was advised to vacate on the grounds of safety and he has been rehoused on a temporary emergency basis in a flat in Yarmouth.
“The property, however, remains a possible danger to anyone walking along that section of beach which is immediately to the south of the lifeboat shed, at the bottom of Beach Road. The borough council’s building control department has written to the owner of that stretch of beach, asking them to erect appropriate signage as soon as possible to forewarn the public of the risk. In the longer term, it is the responsibility of the owner of the property to decide what happens to it.
“The borough council’s coastal manager today carried out an assessment of the Hemsby coastline to update maps and determine whether any other structures could be at immediate risk.”
Lorna Bevan-Thompson, owner of the Lacons Arms pub on Hemsby’s Sea View Road, said the situation was now “diabolical” and fears holidaymakers will simply stop coming if the beach continues to be eaten away.
“The beach is why people come on holiday here,” said Mrs Bevan-Thompson, who has lead the campaign to raise money for DIY coastal defences,
“Without it, they will simply find somewhere else to go. We had new visitors at Easter, but these new people will never come back. They take one look at the debris on the beach, they struggle to even get on to the beach and think, why bother coming back?” The impact of fewer holidaymakers would not only hit Hemsby’s businesses, but Great Yarmouth’s tourism industry and Norfolk as a whole. It is estimated that Hemsby’s tourism generates £80 million a year – more than double that generated by Hopton-on-Sea, another village fighting coastal erosion.
“Considering the amount of money Hemsby generates for the region, I think Yarmouth should be doing more,” said Mrs Bevan-Thompson.
At Crown-owned Hopton, Great Yarmouth Borough Council has invested £200,000 towards the emergency defences while Bourne Leisure, owners of the Hopton Holiday Park, has spent almost £1 million rebuilding the cliff edge.
At a crisis meeting earlier this year borough council leader Trevor Wainwright moved to reassure residents it would pay £15,000 and “do everything we can” to save Hemsby beach.
Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, said it would be difficult to advocate spending taxpayers’ money in Hemsby when the beach is privately owned.
“It’s a fantastic testament to the local business that they’ve got this far with the fundraising; coming together and putting their money where their mouths are. I’d like to see the Watling Trust being more proactive to protect not only the coast but the residents and businesses too.”
The trust, a charity founded in the name of the late Norwich City FC chairman to grant fund local projects, has invested some cash and man-power into Hemsby’s DIY defences.
Hemsby Parish Council has promised to invest a £20,000 loan for the scheme, but this the money is on hold until progress has been seen. In the Shoreline Management Plan, where Hemsby’s defence against the sea is “managed realignment”, it is recognised that much of the village could be lost in 100 years.