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Hemsby: Lifeboat out of service after more coastal erosion

Waves started to come over the temporary defence on Thursday evening and eroded the lifeboat's access ramp

Posted on April 26, 2023

A lifeboat serving a village plagued by coastal erosion is out of action after its access ramp washed away.

About 4m (13ft) of the ramp at Hembsy has disappeared, just weeks after it was rebuilt following high tides in March.

Daniel Hurd, coxswain of the Hemsby Independent Lifeboat, said: “Yet again we’re off service… not knowing who is going to help us do the repair works.”

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has been approached for comment.

The loss of sand from behind the temporary defence means the lifeboat has been taken off service

The sand backfill behind the blocks has been eroded

The beach, near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, was closed earlier this year when high tides claimed metres of sand from the access point known as “the gap”.

Five homes were demolished before they collapsed into the sea.

Five homes were demolished on The Marrams in Hemsby in March

Earlier this month an emergency temporary coastal defence was put in place with nearly 2,000 tonnes of rock used to build an 80m (262ft) revetment costing £735,000.

This has successfully stopped further damage to a vulnerable access road on The Marrams.

In addition to the project, existing tank blocks at the gap, a former war defence, were repositioned and the access ramp to the beach built up to help the independent lifeboat resume its inshore service.

Thursday night’s wind and high tides saw waves come over the new rock defence.

It was expected the sand would now need to be “topped up” after strong tides.

The gap at Hemsby has lost about 3m of sand

Speaking to the BBC on Friday, Mr Hurd said: “We’ve lost at least another 2m to 3m (6ft to 9ft) of the sand dune and all the ramp area has completely been destroyed.

“It’s horrible seeing this,” he said. “Yet again we’re off service, not knowing now what’s going to happen and who is going to help us do the repair works.

“It looks like they are possibly going to be shutting this beach access off again due to the damage and the high levels of danger.”

Earlier this month an emergency temporary coastal defence was put in place with nearly 2,000 tonnes of rock used to build an 80m (262ft) rock revetment

Plans for a permanent rock berm defence stretching 0.8 miles (1.3km) have been approved by the Marine Management Organisation.

However, the council will need to find £15m to pay for the work.

Mr Hurd said: “This rock berm is needed, we can’t wait any longer, they want this beach open for the summer and I don’t really know what’s going to happen.”

Lorna Bevan from Save Hemsby Coastline has appealed for “help right now”

Lorna Bevan, founder of Save Hemsby Coastline, said the situation was “absolutely devastating” and claimed the village was “worse than [back to] square one”.

“We’re at a point where if we don’t get people to sit up and listen to us and provide this protection that Hemsby so vitally needs we’re going to lose everything here and that is just unacceptable,” she said.

She added that Hemsby’s ability to generate an income of £88m every year was “only possible because of the wonderful beach” that “somebody with all the answers is letting go because they’re too lazy to take notice”.

“We desperately need help right now,” she said.

The BBC understands the latest erosion does not pose a new or immediate threat to property.


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