Demolition of houses along Norfolk coastline as erosion takes its toll

8 months ago 5

Work began on Saturday to demolish a number of houses at risk of falling into the sea along the Norfolk coastline.

There are several properties built on sand dunes in the village of Hemsby, about 7.5 miles north of Great Yarmouth, but they are threatened by coastal erosion.

At least five people were evacuated from their homes late last week, according to Norfolk Live, as 50mph winds and a high tide of 3.7m threatened the homes.

The independent Hemsby Lifeboat said some domestic chickens were saved on Friday "moments before the outbuilding in which they were housed fell into the sea".

On Saturday, demolition workers moved in to tear down some of the homes, one of which belonged to Sue, who did not give her last name.

She told the BBC: "It's really annoying - it's all your hopes and dreams collapsed into nothingness."

This time last week there was up to 20ft between her property and the cliff edge, and then there was just 3ft, she added.

Seven homes had to be demolished in March 2018 and in December 2013, the worst storm surge in 60 years destroyed seven homes. It has been reported that two more homes will be demolished later today.

 Saturday March 11, 2023.

Image: Sue in her house before it was demolished

A house is demolished in Hemsby, Norfolk, due to coastal erosion. 11 March 2023

Noel Galer, Great Yarmouth Borough councillor for East Flegg ward, which includes Hemsby, said people will be "trying very hard" to look after those who have lost their homes.

"Some people literally have a second home which happens to be very close to the beach.

"Perhaps they knew the risks and understood the risks, accepted the risks.

"Others for various reasons may have found this is the only place they can find to live because of the cost and their circumstances and may not be so aware of what's going on.

"They may have felt there's no way this is ever going to be washed away."

 Saturday March 11, 2023.

 Saturday March 11, 2023.

Image: Hemsby resident Lance Martin

He said there used to be two further rows of dunes and that there is a footpath on the local map which goes out to sea.

"You look at the map and think: why on earth is there a footpath going out into the ocean? Well, of course, that's simply because of what's disappeared over the last 50 years."

He added: "Unless we have some kind of sea defence protection that presumably will continue, especially with the increased energy and the climate weather system that's hitting our shores."

About 90% of Hemsby's economy depends on tourism, he said, adding: "I think that the decline when you start to lose parts of it would be quite dramatic.

"I have a feeling that Hemsby would lose its prominence quite quickly."

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Sky News report on Hemsby in late-February
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