Car park clearance work at Cley done by American personnel after helicopter crash

Work clearing the car park at Cley in the aftermath of the sea surge. Picture: MIKE PAGE

Work clearing the car park at Cley in the aftermath of the sea surge. Picture: MIKE PAGE - Credit: Archant

American rescue workers helped remove a substantial amount of shingle from a coastal car park after the US Air Force helicopter crashed on Norfolk marshland.

This picture by Mike Page, taken on January 24, shows the work done by USAF personnel to clear the Beach Road car park at Cley, following the tragedy on January 7 at Cley Marshes nature reserve.

The north Norfolk beauty spot and car park is owned by Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) and shingle from the beach was forced onto the hard ground after the storm surge on December 5/6.

Four USAF personnel died after the Pave Hawk helicopter crashed at about 7pm during a low-flying exercise from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.

Kevin Hart, head of nature reserves for the NWT, said: 'After the storm surge the car park was covered in a substantial amount of shingle.'

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He added USAF and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) consulted with the Environment Agency (EA) before moving the material so they could gain access to the crash site and set up a command post.

'Before the storm surge the car park used to go back to the memorial shelter (pictured),' Mr Hart said. 'Our seaward edge of the reserve has changed. Alot of the shingle has been pushed inland 200 metres in places. We have been doing alot of assessing. Repairs are beginning in earnest.'

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He added the trust was in consultation with the EA about reshaping the shingle next to the car park because it formed a sea defence.

'We don't want to compromise the sea defences,' Mr Hart said.

The natural barrier had been repaired on a yearly basis by the EA until 2006 but since then the bank had been shaped by nature.

If approved, repair work will take place over four days by the trust and will be partly paid for by USAF and MoD.

Mr Hart added the surge damaged a bird hide on the Cley Marshes and two breaches on the reserve, which were self-healing.

Vehicles and walkers will be able to access the car park during the work.

Earth and soil from the breached west bank was repaired soon after the surge by the EA.

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