Erosion threat sparks decision to demolish coastguard station
PUBLISHED: 06:00 20 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:37 20 January 2020
An historic building on one of Suffolk's most vulnerable coastal sites is set to be demolished - before it is swept away by stormy seas.
The century-old derelict Coastguard Station on the Orford Ness shingle spit is deemed as "under threat" from the North Sea and the National Trust wants to remove it safely before the worst happens.
If not, the sea will take it - as it did three months ago when the cottage next to the Orfordness Lighthouse just yards away collapsed, renewing fears over the future of the lighthouse itself.
But while the trust has outlined its project to demolish the dilapidated two storey coastguard building, East Suffolk Council has refused to allow the work to proceed because the Ness is a European Protected Site and a detailed assessment of the impact on the site's habitat must be undertaken first.
This will include demolition methods to be used and the timings and timescales for the works; pollution control measures to be implemented; locations of any contractor compound and material storage/stockpiling areas; access routes for machinery/personnel; and details of how demolition materials will be removed from site and disposed of.
The National Trust said the brick-built Coastguard Station was built around 1900 and its state was now described as "very poor, weather beaten. Brickwork reasonably sound, but no doors or windows, very few slates left on the roof." The guttering is assumed to be asbestos.
The trust said: "National Trust policy has been to manage the decline of the buildings on the Ness which are neither Listed or Scheduled Monuments.
"The Coastguard Station is now under threat from the sea and the National Trust have taken the decision to demolish the building before it is lost to the sea. This will ensure that any potential contaminants (ie asbestos) can be safely disposed of and kept out of the marine environment."
Planning case officer Rachel Smith said: Although the building has become unsafe by the inaction of the owner such that it is now derelict, given its proximity to the North Sea and the rate of coastal erosion in this location, it is not considered practicable to secure it by repair works."
However, the council felt the demolition had "the potential to impact on habitats which are part of the designations of the Ness (including vegetated shingle)" and so a Habitats Regulations Assessment would be required.