The project is about how the northeast Norfolk coastline should be managed, the coastline is suffering badly from erosion, some places are worse than others and there are a lot of sea defences put up, some of this is due to global warming, with the seas rising it will put more pressure on the cliffs, the Yorkshire coast down to the north Suffolk is mainly bolder clay so it is wearing away extremely quickly and the coast is very low lying land the combination of the two could be disasters. On the coastline around Norfolk the long shore drift travels from north to south down the coast, this happens in all the coastlines in Norfolk it’s the same system around, not just little bits, the long shore drift carries different bits of materials to different beaches. There are a lot of different defences some are: sea walls, rip rap, gorgers, gabions, granite reefs.


On the 23rd of May there was a school field trip organized and they visited the following locations: Overstrand, Mundesley, Happisburgh, sea palling and Winterton.

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In order to carry out these investigations we had a variety of tasks. Observing the environment closely, we made notes, which included field sketches, and also took photos. The erosion occurring at each place, together with the soil type, land use, bolder clay and defences. Details of our findings are included later on in the project.

Long shore drift

First of all, we visited overstrand. The weather there was hot and blue skies. As a result, I was able to make many notes and also able to ask a questionnaire. We carried on down the coast to Mundesley. Here, we made quite a few questionnaires. Next we went down the Happisburgh, the weather was still fine. We then got to sea palling, there was a lot of people on the beach, so we got to ask some people, our last visit was Winterton, this was one of the worst places for erosion, big blocks of concrete had fallen of the cliff in the last year, and a caf� was near the edge of the beach.


Erosion is changing the Norfolk coast line rapidly; there are many different types of erosion like, hydraulic action, abrasion and solution. The threat of tide and storm, and the response of natural

and engineered sea defences, will continue to influence

changes in the shape of the coast.

Corrasion is The bits of rock and sand in the river rub along the banks, wearing it down and knocking more particles into the water flow.

Hydraulic pressure: As a wave approaches a cliff air can become trapped between them, and find its way into joints. The pressure increases in this air trap as the wave gets closer, thus damaging the cliff face over time.

Corrosion: Includes the dissolving of limestone’s by carbonic acid, found in sea water, evaporation of salt crystals within the cracks of a rock, thus expanding it and weakening its structure. Several rock types are eroded by seawater or spray and secretions from pioneer blue-green algae also contribute to corrosion.

It all comes down to physics and geology, for this coast’s sedimentary rock – if it can be called rock – was laid down barely 12000 years ago, no time at all to compact into something hard enough to resist a winter North Sea. Add in global warming with its already higher wave profiles and in the long run, the ground looks undefendable.

And to some extent, defence options anyway make a circular argument. Coastal processes, which have become much better understood in the forty odd years since most of Norfolk’s sea walls were built, hinge on sediment and, more particularly, how much sediment remains on the beaches. The higher the beach level, the more wave energy is absorbed before waves hit the cliffs.

Which brings us to back Happisburgh.

Happisburgh has or had revetments. Bits of them survive but this smallish village with landmark church and lighthouse now has cliffs which are decreasing rapidly. It began in 1990 when a storm demolished 300m of revetment running south-east from the village. Once the gap appeared, the sea got stuck into the agricultural land behind and has been gnawing away ever since, helped by another storm which later sent six village edge properties to the beach. Since then, things have been going downhill in just about every respect, especially since revetment maintenance was abandoned under the local Shoreline Management Plan.

Coastal defence at Happisburgh is the responsibility of North Norfolk District Council but long term defence works are hugely expensive. And that is where Happisburgh comes unstuck because much of the village is far enough back to be not yet in imminent danger.

Even so, until recently the formula was yielding almost enough points. And there was a scheme involving a new rock groyne and granite rocks below the most threatened properties.

There was and remains anyway the problem of objections. Under the Coast Protection Act, protection schemes must be advertised and cannot progress until objections have been resolved. Proposals for all recent defence schemes at Happisburgh have had two consistent objectors.

One is Eric Couzens, who rejoices in the title of Lord of the Manor which he reportedly bought at auction. He doesn’t speak to the media but objects on several grounds, including his claimed right to salvage on the foreshore which he feels would be hampered by new defences.

The other is emeritus professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, Keith Clayton. Having spent a career looking at coastal issues, he is firmly against hard defences because they only pass the erosion problem to someone else. But he does favour compensation as a cheaper and equitable alternative.

Meanwhile, Happisburgh continues to lose ground. In exasperation, last winter, they spent �160,000 on rock armour at the cliff base in a bid to hold hold the line while something more substantial was arranged. But down in Beach Road, the losses are physical as well as financial.

Beach Road has ended in mid-air for some time and is getting shorter, its shortening matched by the collapse or in some cases demolition in the interests of public safety, for which the owners must pay – of a number of bungalows.

Furthermore, along the cliff-top track which doubles back to the car park, there were, until last year, some small chalets and static caravans. They weren’t all architectural gems, built in the interwar period before planning legislation was properly around, but they were gloriously sited, facing the sea in winter storm and summer sunrise. Their 20 metre cliff had been protected by revetments for decades.

But once the revetments began to break up, the earth began to move. They became places where many people wouldn’t spend a stormy night. Even their names, though evocative, had displayed foreboding. There was ‘Oversand’, now sadly under sand, and there was ‘White Horses’ which, ultimately, couldn’t be kept away from the garden. ‘Turning Tides’ still hopes forlornly but ‘Thalassa’ is a picture of lassitude. The rest have gone.

The laying down of sediment (deposition) in a low-energy environment with constructive waves. Coastal deposition occurs where there is a large supply of material from cliffs, rivers, or beaches, long shore drift, and an irregular coastline. Most beaches display a number of features of coastal deposition.

The coastline is very rugged and there are lot of caravan sites which could easily go over the edge, this coastline in Happisburgh needs to be protected


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