Woman stands in way of digger

A Norfolk woman described last night how she stopped a digger in its tracks by leaping into the hole it made in sand dunes which she says are protecting her house.

A Norfolk woman described last night how she stopped a digger in its tracks by leaping into the hole it made in sand dunes which she says are protecting her house.

Workers were moving sand from dunes near Beach Road, at Caister, to the nearby Sea Wall Café to protect it from vandals and secure its foundations when Bridget Lowe rushed from her home to stand in front of the digger and a dumper truck to stop the work.

She said the dunes were essential to stop the sea flooding her house, but workers accused her of obstruction and rang the police who stopped the digging until the council had been informed.

Investigations are now being carried out by Yarmouth Borough Council to check if the sand can be moved back or if it has become contaminated.

Ms Lowe said: "I was in the garden and saw the digger attacking the sea defences and rushed out and stood in the hole to prevent the work continuing. The workmen said they were intending to dig up the whole stretch - I just hope they will repair all the damage they have made.

"I have a photo of the sand being up to our bedroom window in the 1970s. We don't want a repeat of that. That doesn't happen any more because there are sea defences around our house protecting it - and we want to keep it that way."

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Council planning officers have told café owner Valentine Watson that he needs planning permission to move the sand.

Mr Watson, who owns the land on which the work was carried out, said: "I have been told by the council this is an engineering procedure and needs planning permission, so I will be submitting an application, although I did not think it was any different to clearing the garden.

"There was a large gap underneath the café, full of discarded bottles and needles which were causing a safety hazard. I also want to improve the access to a property I own at the end of Beach Road and remove a large amount of debris that has been illegally dumped on the scrubland."

Alison White, whose home in Coastguard Road backs on to the dunes, was alerted to the arrival of the digger by a neighbour.

She said: "I heard the digger and my neighbour came round to tell me a lot of sand had been moved.

"I am worried that this will affect the state of the sea defences. We have lost a lot of beach recently and this has created an appalling mess. I would definitely be opposed to any more sand being taken from near the top of our garden."

Service development manager Bernard Harris said: "Around 20 cubic metres of earth were shifted in total and it is possible it may have to be moved back."