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‘It buys us time’ - Coastal defence bid will help stop homes falling into sea

PUBLISHED: 06:30 06 November 2020 | UPDATED: 10:45 06 November 2020

Homes along the Marrams, Hemsby are slowly starting to fall apart due to coastal erosion. Picture: Nick Butcher

Homes along the Marrams, Hemsby are slowly starting to fall apart due to coastal erosion. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

A 1,300m rock berm has been hailed “the best option” for erosion-scarred Hemsby in its efforts to stop villagers’ homes crumbling from under their feet.

A projected view of what the rock berm could look like on Hemsby beach. Photo: Jacobs ConsultantsA projected view of what the rock berm could look like on Hemsby beach. Photo: Jacobs Consultants

At a meeting of Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s environment committee on November 4, members were told the berm was the most affordable and effective method in the medium-term - but that long-term proposals could include demolition of “at risk” properties or the reimbursement of homeowners for depreciated house values.

Hemsby has been battling the problem of coastal erosion for decades - but the Beast from the East in 2018 created such powerful storm surges that 13 chalets were torn down from the cliffside.

Anne Casey, the council’s coastal adaptation officer, said: “The berm is the best out of the 19 options considered.

“It is a large mound of rocks which will be built into the southern edge of Hemsby beach, and has a 20-year lifespan.

“It doesn’t protect against all waves and surges - and there will be overtopping and erosion of the dunes - but it certainly buys us time.”

Homes along the Marrams, Hemsby are slowly starting to fall apart due to coastal erosion.
Picture: Nick ButcherHomes along the Marrams, Hemsby are slowly starting to fall apart due to coastal erosion. Picture: Nick Butcher

James Bensly, councillor for Hemsby, said: “I have some very vulnerable residents affected by these issues, and even us sitting here discussing them gives them optimism.

“There’s still some uncomfortable conversations to have, but it’s helping them in these troubled times.”

George Waterman, speaking on behalf of Hemsby Village Neighbourhood Plan’s steering group, said he “fully supported” the plans.

“Even if it’s just a way to buy more time, we support anything that protects our tourist zone down by the coast. It’s a hell of an asset to lose completely”, he said.

The Hemsby coast in March 2018. Photo: Mike PageThe Hemsby coast in March 2018. Photo: Mike Page

“We have new group members who live directly on the Marrams - and some of them do think the proposals could go further, however.

“People down on Crescent or Beach Road think we should have a reinforced concrete sea-wall, like they have in Scratby.”

Barbara Hodgeson, who lives on the Marrams, said: “We love the idea of a rock berm, and finally feel there is some hope.

“But we’re still worried about the winter ahead, and more than anything the timeframe. It’s still a long way to go before the berm is shovel-ready.”

The Hemsby coast in May 2018 looking at the Marrams. Photo: Mike PageThe Hemsby coast in May 2018 looking at the Marrams. Photo: Mike Page

The next step, Ms Casey said, would be to find funding and planning permission to turn the proposals into reality.

The final proposal will come back before committee later this month.

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James Bensly. Picture: James BenslyJames Bensly. Picture: James Bensly


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