'An absolute no-no': Warning over people digging into dunes

Hemsby dune tunnel

Tunnels have been dug into the dunes between Hemsby and Winterton - Credit: Submitted

People have been warned over "digging into dunes" after tunnels were found in the sandbanks along a Norfolk beach.

The man who spotted the tunnels on the dunes between Hemsby and Winterton on Wednesday said he was not only concerned the "dangerous practice" was "weakening them" - but that the person doing the digging could have been buried alive.

Hemsby Lifeboat coxswain Daniel Hurd said the individual was "right to be worried" and that the activity was "an absolute no-no".

He said: "I want to stress that nobody should be digging into the dunes whatsoever, at any time.

"They're very unstable at the minute because of the tides and weather, but we would warn against this type of activity even in summer.


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"There is nothing supporting the sand above you and you could be buried alive if the roof of the tunnel caves in.

Tunnels have been dug into the dunes between Hemsby and Winterton

Tunnels have been dug into the dunes between Hemsby and Winterton - Credit: Submitted

"We've had incidents in past summers where we have had to drag kids out from inside the dunes who've been digging tunnels, and we don't need that at the moment given the pressure emergency services are under.

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"The sand at the top of the dune is loose, and they're collapsing all the time. People should not be taking that risk.

"It's a hazard and an accident waiting to happen."

Daniel Hurd, coxswain of Hemsby Inshore Rescue Service lifeboat. Picture by James Taylor Photographi

Daniel Hurd, coxswain of Hemsby Inshore Rescue Service lifeboat - Credit: Archant

Mr Hurd noted that people should "just look what's happening at Happisburgh" if they wanted an example of how fragile - and indeed dangerous - the beach landscape can be.

At Happisburgh, cliffs have become saturated with water and collapsed in recent months, with North Norfolk District Council invariably warning people to "take care" when out walking due to potential landslips.

Cliff falls are more common in winter due to bad weather such as prolonged periods of heavy rain which cause the cliffs to become saturated.

Coastal erosion at Happisburgh. Picture: Danielle Booden

Coastal erosion at Happisburgh - Credit: Danielle Booden

Meanwhile at Hemsby, 15ft of dune was washed away during a single evening as Storm Darcy battered the frontage of Lance Martin's last remaining home on the Marrams.

On Monday, February 8, Hemsby Lifeboat took the decision to close the Beach Road car park to deter visitors while high tides and strong winds rendered the area "unsafe".

Lance Martin at the back of his home overlooking the defences that have fallen foul of the borough c

Lance Martin lost 15ft from the frontage of his Marrams home following Storm Darcy - Credit: Archant


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