Coastal erosion claimed three homes in Hemsby last weekend and a further two properties in the village are deemed at serious risk. Are there other Hemsbys along the coast and what can be done to protect the communities which live there?
The East Anglian coastline is no stranger to coastal erosion.
During the 13th and 14th centuries the sea reclaimed much of Dunwich in Suffolk, once the 10th largest town in England.
The story of Dunwich is far from unique.
There are more than 300 settlements in the North Sea basin that have been lost in the past 900 years due to coastal erosion or flooding.
It is a threat which continues to loom over many coastal communities to this day.
Managing coastal erosion can be “eye wateringly expensive”, said Dr John Barlow, senior lecturer in applied geomorphology at the University of Sussex.
“You can’t just build a concrete wall around the entire country,” he said. “The truth is, there is a limited amount of money and it is spent using cost-benefit analysis.
“If you are looking to protect something that costs less than the cost of defending it, it won’t happen.”
It means while some areas, usually towns and larger settlements, will be protected many others will not.
Each short stretch of the East Anglian coast has its own shoreline management plan.
Together, these plans reveal the potential scale of home, business and land losses on the cards for those who live there.
Hemsby comes under the Kelling to Lowestoft Ness plan, a document which maps out how coastal erosion might be managed along this 48 mile (77km) arc of coastline.
The plan warns how up to 90 properties could be lost between 2012 and 2025 and a further 440 by 2055.
It advises that by 2025, up to 15 properties could be lost at Happisburgh, 35 at Ostend and up to 10 between Overstrand and Mundesley…
Archival Footage –
Houses sitting on the cliff edge on The Marrams in Hemsby, Norfolk have been evacuated, after parts of the cliff have collapsed into the sea …