Thorpeness: Post-storm emergency coast repairs ‘to start this week’

The shingle coastline at Thorpeness suffered a battering by the bad weather over the last couple of

The shingle coastline at Thorpeness suffered a battering by the bad weather over the last couple of days and a vast amount of the shingle has been washed away. Local resident Vicky Bell is pictured. - Credit: Archant

Emergency work to protect a vulnerable cliff face ravaged by storms will start this week, council bosses said last night, amid renewed fears over coastal erosion.

The urgent measures are being put in place to help safeguard homes in Admirals Walk in Thorpeness after heavy storms – described as the worst in nearly 20 years – caused “substantial damage” to a large section of the cliff and beach by the properties.

Steven Wootten, 32, who has rented a house in Admirals Walk for two years, said sand bags protecting the stretch of cliff-top homes had been left exposed after shingle was washed away by “ferocious” seas which swept in to gardens.

He said it was the first coastal erosion he had seen since moving in with his partner Vicky Bell, 28.

But bosses at Suffolk Coastal District Council have now intervened and last night confirmed urgent action will be taken in a bid to prevent further losses to the cliff.

Andy Smith, deputy leader of Suffolk Coast District Council, said he visited the affected site yesterday morning before engineers carried out “detailed” inspections.

“We have been monitoring the situation at Thorpeness and at other vulnerable sites over the weekend following the tidal surge last Thursday and the windy weather the next day,” he said. “We had already arranged to inspect vulnerable sections of the coast on Monday as a result of the predictions received earlier last week.

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“Clearly the tidal surge, of nearly a metre above an already high predicted tide level, has moved significant amounts of beach material, exposing and eroding the cliff at the top of the beach, which is a matter of concern.

“As a result, we plan to carry out emergency repairs this week to install some basic protection for the damaged area.

“This work will be carried out as soon as possible once we have got machinery and materials in place, which have already been ordered.”

He added he was “encouraged” a new £400,000 scheme coastal protection scheme built in the northern part of Thorpeness last year “performed exactly as designed” and “protected that part of the frontage”.

Speaking before Mr Smith’s intervention, Mr Wootten issued an impassioned plea to the council to improve sea defences.

“The storms caused substantial damage,” he said. “I hadn’t seen any erosion in the last two years until Thursday and Friday.

“There is now a sand beach in front of the block with a soft shingle wall which is not very stable.”

Shelley Cowlin, of North End Avenue, Thorpeness, who raised fears she could lose her house three years ago due to erosion, prompting emergency repair work, said: “It was the worst storm for around 20 years.

“We got a good battering. The council have done a lot of work at the beach but more work is afoot.”

Mr Smith added. “We will keep the whole situation under review in this area and at other vulnerable points on the Suffolk coast to see what other work needs to be done in the long-term, and how that might be funded.”

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We are aware that Suffolk Coastal District Council is meeting with residents in Thorpeness early this week and we will be interested to hear about the outcome of these discussions.”