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Hopton coastline under threat fears

PUBLISHED: 11:19 14 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:29 05 July 2010

THE coastline at Hopton could be under threat from work at the new outer harbour at Great Yarmouth.

The beach has taken a battering from the sea in the past six months, with up to 3ft of sand being washed away in some sections.

THE coastline at Hopton could be under threat from work at the new outer harbour at Great Yarmouth.

The beach has taken a battering from the sea in the past six months, with up to 3ft of sand being washed away in some sections.

This has led some villagers to fear that Hopton could soon fall victim to rapid cliff erosion.

Stephen Ford, of Potters Drive, is among those alarmed by the rate of erosion, and he suspects it could be a result of the outer harbour affecting tidal streams.

Mr Ford, who has walked the local coastline for more than 20 years, said he had never seen erosion on this scale before.

"This is not the norm. Hopton shoreline is becoming an ecological and environmental disaster. It is also going to affect the holiday industry because there will be no beach left for visitors," said Mr Ford, who wants the sand to be replenished.

Erosion at Corton beach has forced councillors in Waveney to rethink its classification as a nudist beach. Because so much of it has been lost to the sea, there have been calls for it to be made available to the wider public.

Hopton beach is a popular attraction for visitors to Potters Leisure Resort, which owns part of the beach. Resort owner Brian Potter said he had noticed significant erosion in the past six weeks, with up to 3ft of sand being washed away.

"It's now impossible for our guests to get on to the beach unless they are agile," he said.

Access was only now possible via a wooden ramp that was not always easy to tackle, said Mr Potter.

He added: "I have seen that amount of sand loss in the past with storms, etcetera. But it has always built up again.

"The big question is whether because of the outer harbour, the tide is cutting into the coastline close to Gorleston golf course; Hopton along to Corton.

"If it is the case, that the storms are causing the erosion, I'm not too concerned, but if it is connected with the outer harbour we have a serious problem."

In terms of sea defences, the section of coast is subject to a "hold-the-line" approach by the Environment Agency under the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP), and Mr Potter said he would be sad to see the beach disappear totally.

The issue was raised at Hopton Parish Council's meeting on Monday, and chairman Mike Butcher said the beach had come and gone for years.

He said: "I have visited the beach and, yes, the sand has been significantly reduced, but when we have prevailing easterly winds it naturally erodes the sand."

Mr Butcher said that in the past few months the area had suffered from stronger easterly winds than in past years and the beach had not yet had chance to recover.

"What we need is some strong westerly winds to bring the sand back. It is a concern, and I don't claim to be an expert, but it's something which has happened over time," he added.

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