Plans to clear debris from the beach at Happisburgh have been approved and assurances have been offered about the possible impact it may have on the already occurring erosion.

The debris consists of the remains of old coastal defences, lost cliff-top structures and the old, now eroded lifeboat ramp.

Planning officers say that where possible, concrete remains will be incorporated into the existing rock defences

The proposals were approved by North Norfolk District Council's cabinet last week. In a report officers state: 'The debris restricts access along the beach, poses a potential hazard to visitors and detracts from the appeal of Happisburgh as a visitor destination.'

They also said after holding public consultations that the overwhelming response had been in support of removing the debris.

At the same time as removing the debris, the council will also take the opportunity to adjust the current rock bund to make it as effective as possible as a defence along the Beach Road frontage.

The council say they have tried to assess the impact clearing the debris will have on the current rate of erosion of the coastal cliffs, but they say although it is their belief any impacts would be minor and of a short duration, that cannot be formally confirmed.

'The cliff line over the frontage is expected to adjust quite quickly to the removal of the debris. This might have the effect of straightening the cliff toe line in the short term, particularly on the north-east corner, but would not be expected to have any longer term impacts on rates of erosion.'

Proposals to move Happisburgh's car park from Beach Road to another cliff top site to the east have also been submitted to North Norfolk District Council and are currently under consultation.

The new site, also off Beach Road where 16 homes have been lost to erosion over the years, is designed to be able to retreat and adjust as the coastline changes.

As well as the 74-space car park, the plans also include a 'relocatable' toilet block, and a shop or kiosk, likely to be run by the RNLI lifeboat branch, and a new ramp to the beach, which will replace the lifeboat ramp which was lost to erosion in December 2002.

The planning application states: 'This location will provide convenient access to the best part of Happisburgh beach. While the cliffs at this location are certainly susceptible to erosion, the scheme has been designed to be adaptable to such impacts.'

Both the clearing of the debris and the moving of the car park will be paid for by part of a �3m pot of Pathfinder funding from central government, aimed at helping communities adjust to their changing coastlines.