More shoreline damage expected in Hemsby and Winterton

17:05 30 January 2022

“The damage has been done, but there is more to come.”

That’s the message from officials along the coastline of the Borough of Great Yarmouth who have suffered more erosion overnight.

Alternate routes must be created to access Winterton Beach.
– Credit: Archant

On Sunday morning, officers from Winterton Coastwatch and the crew of Hemsby Lifeboat discovered that more material from the beach and dunes had been claimed from the sea.

The cliff edge near the Winterton parking lot has receded further inland and is closer to the Winterton Coastwatch office.

Coastal Watch Officer Mel Messen said: “We expect worse tonight and it doesn’t look promising.

“The parking curb has been removed directly in front of our office.

“It wasn’t so bad last night, but we expect the worst for the next three nights.

“Hopefully it won’t do too much damage.

“But it’s not looking good.”

Winterton Cliff

Winterton Coastwatch expects more damage to be done overnight.
– Credit: Archant

Mr Messen said the high winds ahead could determine how long Coastwatch will have to move its existing outpost before it ends up in the sea.

“It’s getting pretty desperate and we’re heartbroken, we have to move.

“But we hope for the best and we expect the worst.

“If the winds are fishing to the east, then we’ll be in serious trouble.”

Winterton Cliff

Councilor James Bensly said there is a public risk of landslides on the Winterton car park cliff.
– Credit: Archant

In early December, Hemsby Lifeboat had to flatten a newly formed platform on the beach, which prevented them from being able to launch.

Much of their earlier work had been wasted on Sunday as Hemsby Gap had lost several yards of material and a newly formed plateau had once again restricted access to the sea.

The shelf at Hemsby Gap.

The newly formed shelf at Hemsby Gap limits lifeboat access to the beach.
– Credit: Archant

Helmsman Daniel Hurd said: “At this rate we won’t have anything left.

“It’s depressing because we expect more tonight.”

The people of Hemsby have fought against the sea for decades. However, funding sufficient sea defenses is an ongoing problem.

Dunes at Hemsby

High winds blew much of the dune by Hemsby Lifeboat.
– Credit: Archant

Mr Hurd said: “The more I see this happening the more it bothers me.

“We need a supply of gabions and riprap.

“But it looks like we’re going to have to take it in hand.

” Something has to be done.

“It started in 2013. We lost our old shed and helped out with some DIY fenders.

“But we want to see action, machines on the beach, a rocky berm and sort it all out.”

Winterton Cliff

Winterton Beach is now inaccessible from the car park.
– Credit: Archant

West Flegg Councilor James Bensly visited the two sites in Winterton and Hemsby on Sunday.

Mr Bensly said: “We are concerned about the recent weather event.

“The northwesterly wind cost us a significant amount of material on our coastline and formed a plateau at Hemsby.

Winterton Cliffs

Access to Winterton beach from the car park is no longer safe to use.
– Credit: Archant

“We also lost dunes and cliffs in Winterton which exposed more of the route and we lost a safe route to the beach.

“The parking lot and The Edge are still open and safe to visit, but alternate routes to the beach are needed.

“In Winterton, our primary concern is public safety around potential landslides.

“At Hemsby, our concern is that the lifeboat may not be able to launch due to the cliff that has formed. The lifeboat may launch but may have difficulty bringing vessels ashore.

“We are trying to protect Hemsby Gap. We and the Environmental Agency need to maintain the area to maintain our assets with methods already in use further up the coast – such as gabions at Scratby.

Winterton Cliff

Winterton Coastwatch fears their planned move may happen sooner rather than later.
– Credit: Archant

“Hemsby Gap is the only access point to the sea for machinery, so we really have to deal with that.

“The Winterton car park also needs help and advice to maintain and adapt to our environment.

“This too is an asset for the existing parking problems in the village.

“The damage has been done and we are concerned about more to come overnight.”

Storm Malik brings a yellow weather warning for strong winds that is expected to last through Monday.

The Met Office said the winds are likely to disrupt travel and could generate large and dangerous waves around the coast.

On Saturday, parts of Norfolk saw winds near 60 mph.

Elsewhere, train lines were affected by winds and high tides, with the Lowestoft-Norwich line out of service due to an opening pothole.