Popular Norfolk beach could be shut to public for up to 20 years over erosion fears: RNLI crews close stretch of coastline at Hemsby after it lost 10ft of land in just two days as locals appeal for government help

  • Hemsby closed by the local lifeboat crew after losing 10 feet of land in two days
  • Two bungalows are at risk now that they face the past-pace erosion
  • Read More: The families whose homes inch ever closer to falling into the sea

A popular Norfolk beach could be closed to the public for decades as erosion threatens houses and businesses on its coastline.

The beach at Hemsby, seven miles north of Great Yarmouth, was closed at the weekend by the local volunteer lifeboat crew after losing 10ft (3m) of land in just two days.

The sea has been claiming land and homes from the village for several years but a further two bungalows are now at risk and the lifeboat cannot launch because a 9ft sheer drop has emerged on the beach.

Daniel Hurd, coxswain of Hemsby Lifeboat, said he was furious the ‘horrendous’ situation was continuing with no end in sight.

He said: ‘It has been horrendous.

 A beach in Hemsby faces closure for the next 20 if authorities in the local area don’t act soon

The beach at Hemsby, seven miles north of Great Yarmouth, was closed at the weekend by the local volunteer lifeboat crew after losing 10ft of land in just two days

‘We knew we were going to get some washed away this year but now the beach is going to have to stay shut permanently.

‘Unless the authorities get the ball rolling, we’re probably looking at another 20 years before the beach opens.’

Mr Hurd said the beach had been so badly affected by erosion that concrete debris from Second World War invasion defences had resurfaced.

He added: ‘We’ve all got families, we’re all volunteers, none of us get paid, but every time something happens down here it seems to be the lifeboat crew at the head of it.

‘We get no-one down here to check or give us some sort of support.

The sea has been claiming land and homes from the village for several years but a further two bungalows are now at risk

‘We get nothing.

‘It was us putting the calls in to try and get temporary accommodation for people if they lose their property.

‘It was us ringing power networks to get power lines taken down and removed from the properties at risk.’

Read More:  Norfolk’s Hemsby leads villages with the biggest property value boom as buyers search for coastal countryside views

Chris Batten, the crew’s secretary and helmsman, said the damage was caused by the cumulative effects of multiple high tides and strong winds, rather than an especially strong storm surge.

He said: ‘There are two specific properties that are at greatest risk.

‘One of the families has already evacuated and the other is still there.

‘The crew were all on stand-by last night and we were down the station doing patrols of the area every 30 minutes to make sure the residents were safe and well.’

Keith Kyriacou, 57, chairman of Hemsby Parish Council, urged the Government to step in to help the village survive.

He said: ‘The beach is in a terrible state. It is in a bad way.

‘We’re just so desperate for the Government to help us out here.

‘We’re losing our beach and our beach is our main income in the summer with the tourists and holidaymakers – 85% of our income is from tourists and we just want the Government to help us, but we don’t seem to be getting anywhere fast.’

Daniel Hurd, coxswain of Hemsby Lifeboat, said he was furious the ‘horrendous’ situation was continuing with no end in sight

Walkers who go to the beach are at risk of being trapped by the tide if they tried to exit where the sheer drop is

Mr Kyriacou, who runs a leisure business and a car workshop, added: ‘The lifeboat crew down there are working so hard to protect everything. You can’t fault them.

‘But there’s not much we can do.

‘We are fighting a losing battle at the moment.’

James Bensly, who runs the Hemsby Beach Cafe on the seafront, said that walkers who get onto the beach elsewhere were at risk of being trapped by the tide if they tried to exit where the sheer drop is.

The Conservative Norfolk county councillor, 44, added it was a big concern the town’s lucrative summer tourist trade could dry up – especially because he has closed the cafe for the winter due to the high price of electricity.

The erosion is a big concern for the town’s lucrative summer tourist trade that could dry up

‘Tourism and agriculture is all we have out here,’ he said.

‘I want my little girl and I want her friends and their families to enjoy our coastal resorts.

‘I want them to be able to have the memories that I had of the beach.

‘The beach is forever changing, it’s evolving and it’s a living thing.

Read More: We fell for life on the edge! They’re a bargain with glorious sea views… but the catch is they’re doomed to plunge off a cliff

‘But we have to try and protect it and live with it.

‘We’re never going to stop coastal erosion.

‘But what we can do is slow down the rate of erosion at coastal resorts and give people who are living here opportunities to try and get out of this trap that they find themselves in through no fault of their own.’

Ian Brennan, chairman of the Save Hemsby Coastline charity in Norfolk, claimed more than 90 homes in Hemsby are at risk of going into the sea in the next 25 years if nothing is done. 

He also said that many homeowners did not know their properties were at risk when they purchased them.

He added: ‘People here are very nervous. Every time there is a storm those who live within sight and sound of the sea fear it will be the one which means they lose their home.’

According to Mr Brennan, 90 homes are at risk of being lost in Hemsby over the next 25 years.

Grenadier Guard Lance Martin, 65, fears for his property on the Norfolk Coast. Homeowners have said they’re afraid to cut the grass along the cliff edges

Half of Mr Martin’s house has already been lost to the sea. He paid a man with a tractor to drag what remained of his property another 10 metres from the cliff edge 

Lance Martin, 65, is among the householders in Hemsby, Norfolk who might be forced to move house.

He is living in the last house left on his road, The Marrams, where the cliff edge hugs his back patio fence after all 11 of his neighbours were forced to move because of the dangerous location.

However, the last few years have been far from relaxing for Mr Martin.

After retiring to the Norfolk coast in 2017, Mr Martin had the shock of his life when only four months after moving in, he looked down to see the sea between his feet, the waves having swept his kitchen floor away.

The 65-year-old responded brilliantly, grabbing his chainsaw and cutting through the 18ft by 12ft kitchen joists which ‘physically dropped’ the remainder of the room into the sea.

Coastal erosion on the Norfolk coast is putting more houses at risk. Eleven homeowners on The Marrams street have already abandoned their properties 

He only managed to remain on his property by dragging it 10.5 metres back from the cliff edge with a tractor after the 2018 Beast from the East storm ate away metres of ground from under his home.

When he bought his £95,000 house – he was told by an environmental impact study that would have 30 to 40 years before the cliffs reached his house, as the coastline 40 metres away was eroding by roughly one metre each year.

However, despite his best efforts, his home in Hemsby has proved to be far from safe. 

Coastal erosion has continued apace, his bungalow is now perched perilously atop a 30ft drop, and he cannot be sure it will survive much longer.

According to an Environment Agency report from 2022, 53 per cent of English and Welsh cliffs are subject to instability and erosion.

Global warming is also accelerating the process, with higher sea levels and increasingly volatile weather.

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