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Hidden danger as Reculver crumbles

Walkers told to stay away from top and bottom of cliffs

DANGER: Coastguard Colin Dinley by the cliff falls at Reculver
DANGER: Coastguard Colin Dinley by the cliff falls at Reculver

OFFICIALS have admitted they are powerless to stop a Bay beauty spot from falling into the sea. Over the past week, several tonnes of rock have crashed onto the beach at Reculver as the cliff falls away, prompting warnings to walkers to stay away from the edge. Council staff were due to visit the site this week to make sure signs were still in place, and said there was nothing they could do to prevent more falls. Principal engineer Jeff Austin said the area had no sea defences. He said:

“There is no infrastructure or buildings at the top, just fields and grassland.”

Expensive

“Sea defences are very expensive and there is no way the council could afford it from council tax, it would have to be funded by grants and loans. The area is subject to erosion by the sea and the top is like a sponge, soaking up the water from the hinterland. It is ongoing. It is happening all the time.”

Mr Austin echoed calls from coastguards to stay away from the edge of the cliffs – a popular walking spot – and from the bottom. He said:

“It is very dangerous at the top. There are tension cracks and it can just go without warning. Equally, at the bottom there is a danger arid we can only hope people see the signs.”

The Reculver Towers, an ancient monument, is protected by sea defences but the rest of the country park is receding by 60cm per year on average, although individual falls can take out up to three metres at a time. Herne Bay councillor Peter Vickery-Jones, who is responsible for the foreshore, said he would investigate whether fences were an option. He said:

“Although the formal path is more inland, people tend to walk along the cliff because that is where the best views are. But it is so dangerous. It is awful saying we have done the best we can but it is a question of costings. There is nothing really we can do to prevent the natural erosion. But I will look at fences as a belt and braces approach along with the signs.”

Coastguard Colin Dinley, part of a team called out to investigate the cliff falls, said there was a significant fall last week and more this week. He said:

“We took photos so we can track any changes and passed them to Thames Coastguard who will be informing the relevant organisations. Cliffs are extremely unstable at this time of year so we would urge people to take care. People should not walk along the bottom of cliffs, especially at high water, and do not walk near the top of cliffs at any time.”

Herne Bay Times, January 23rd 2014

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