Emergency sea defences 'too late' for cliff-top homes lost to coastal erosion in Hemsby, Norfolk

Thousands of tonnes of rock is being shipped to Hemsby to help protect the dunes from erosion.
Homes in Hemsby are in danger of collapsing into the sea because of coastal erosion. Credit: PA

Thousands of tonnes of rock is being shipped to a coastal village in Norfolk to help stop it from collapsing into the sea.

Three homes built on sand dunes at Hemsby were demolished this weekend after they became perilously close to the edge due to coastal erosion.

An emergency shipment of boulders, known as 'rock armour', is due to arrive on Tuesday to help protect damage to more homes and a road that has been undermined.

The rocks will be placed in front of the dunes, but some people who live in the town are angry that it has taken so long for extra sea defences to be delivered.

Dan Hurd, from Hemsby lifeboat, said: "It was declared an emergency at Hemsby yesterday and I understand the Environment Agency have now got 16,000 tonnes of rock coming in to be placed to protect the road which is quite vulnerable.

"My feelings are, this has been an emergency for years... why only now? Why was this emergency not called years ago?

"It's great they're bringing rock armour in, it's what we want, but why couldn't it have been done earlier?

"We need the money to protect this coastline, protect tourism.

"Tourism is a big part of Hemsby and it has been for years. There's a lot of local businesses that rely on that.

"If we haven't got tourism, you might as well say Hemsby is finished."

Three homes in Hemsby were demolished after coastal erosion put them close to the edge. Credit: PA

The sea defences arriving in a few days time are only a temporary solution and will not hold back the tide indefinitely.

As for how long they will last, Jane Beck from Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said the rocks "will buy us time in this process".

As for something more permanent, Ms Beck added: "What I can say is we want a solution for Hemsby."

Meanwhile, people are being urged to stay away from the beach because of the possible dangers.

"The draw for everybody is to come and look but we're saying please don't," said Ms Beck.

"We are still in an emergency situation, we are dealing with the aftermath of that and we need to check that the beach is a safe place to be."

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “The Environment Agency works closely in partnership with local authorities to tackle the threat of flooding and coastal change. Around 2,000 new schemes are being created to manage coastal and flood risk nationally.

“In North Norfolk we are working with the Norfolk Strategic Flooding Alliance trialling new schemes to support affected communities, which will also inform guidance to councils across England.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...