Fears over safety of crumbling sand ramp at Happisburgh

An excavator was due on Happisburgh beach this morning to re-cut a sand ramp branded a 'serious danger' by a concerned resident.

Jan Burley feared someone could fall off the sheer edge of the crumbling ramp which stretches from the new Beach Road car park to the sand, rock and debris below.

Mrs Burley, 57, who walks her three dogs on the beach every day, contacted North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) after becoming worried about the fast-eroding ramp.

It was created last summer by NNDC as part of a package of improvements which also included a new car park, and a toilet block and picnic area which are still under construction.

Anyone standing near the edge of the ramp, at its beach end, risked the sand falling away beneath their feet and plunging five foot or more onto whatever lay below, Mrs Burley claimed.

The bottom ledge was also now less than a foot across and Mrs Burley said she had to clamber and scramble back up to it from the beach.

The area had been very popular with families over the half-term holidays and she had been concerned at excited children running down the ramp to the beach, falling over the edge and hurting themselves.

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'The high tides wash the ramp away. I know erosion will affect anything they put there so you want something that's easy to roll back - but this idea is weird. It's a serious danger at the moment,' said Mrs Burley.

'Who's supposed to monitor it? Is it down to the locals like me? I'm surprised that health and safety rules have allowed it to get to this stage.'

An NNDC spokesman said the ramp had been 'carefully cut out of the cliff' last year and was the only sensible solution to providing an access to the beach which, along with the other new facilities, could be 'rolled back' as erosion bit ever deeper into the coastline.

He added: 'The plan was always that when we became aware of erosion we would re-cut the ramp as soon as was practical.'

The excavator would carry out any necessary work, at a cost of about �500. The situation would be repeated in the future: 'it is the nature of the coast and we have to manage it as best we can,' he added.

The council had been in touch with Happisburgh Parish Council and some Beach Road residents to keep them aware.

A manufactured ramp would either be left standing away from the cliffs as they eroded, or would be broken up by the sea.

NNDC's coastal engineer made frequent visits and they were also regularly contacted by local people.

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