New East Runton Coastwatch base will ‘fill surveillance gap’

Vigilant volunteers have pledged to fill an important gap along the north Norfolk coast after being granted permission to build a new search and rescue surveillance station.

The National Coastwatch Institution has been keen to open a lookout post in the Cromer area for several months and was today given the green light to set up a new cliff top base in East Runton.

The 2.4 metre high look out post, which will sit at the edge of Beach Road car park next to existing caravan parks, will join the chain of bases along the coast at Wells, Sheringham, Mundesley and Happisburgh, and fill the break in surveillance.

Colin Neason, a volunteer at the Mundesley station, said: 'Coastwatch has 46 stations round the country and we feel this plugs the gap between the one at Mundesley and Sheringham. It's just a way of providing extra search and rescue assets.'

Members of North Norfolk District Council's development committee, which passed the plans at a meeting this morning, welcomed the base despite residents' objections that it would take up valuable car parking space and spoil the view.

John Wyatt thought it was 'brilliant' someone would be keeping an eye on the beach particularly as coastguard services are being cut with Great Yarmouth's station being closed.

He said: 'It's not a monstrous building it's only a portable building and now the coastguards are being done away with we must have something to replace it. I don't agree with volunteer bases because I think the government should supply the coastguard but I want to support this application on the grounds of safety.'

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Simon Partridge added: 'It doesn't really strike me that a huge amount will be taken out of that car park, of course this unit would have to go right close to the edge because you want to see over the edge to the beach and sea.'

Local member Helen Eales, who covers The Runtons, urged the institution to rethink its plans and asked why the base could not have been sited in one of Cromer's bigger car parks.

'It also looks too industrial for the area,' she added. 'The plans should be looked at and a more suitable proposition put forward and it should not block views from the caravan site.'

But the committee agreed to pass the plans by a majority of eight. The station now has permission to be built and stay on site for five years.

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