Decades of erosion leaves historic coastguard cottage teetering perilously over cliff edge – amid fears Storm Ciaran may cause further damage
- READ MORE: Storm Ciaran’s path of destruction with 100mph winds and tornado
Decades of coastal erosion have left a historic coastguard cottage teetering just inches from a cliff edge as experts warn the arrival of Storm Ciaran could cause further damage and place it in even more peril.
The cottage, one of a seven-long terrace of homes built for coastguards between 1800 and 1820, is the latest which may face being torn down after its neighbour was demolished over four weeks in 2014.
The property at Birling Gap, near Eastbourne, East Sussex, is one of four left standing and will be the next to be pulled down as coastal erosion continues to threaten it.
With wind gusts already exceeding 100mph in the British Isles on Thursday and amber weather warnings in place along the south coast, it is feared Storm Ciaran could cause further erosion.
Two of the seven houses were previously demolished in 1994 and the early 2000s.
The cottage, one of a seven-long terrace of homes built for coastguards between 1800 and 1820, is the latest which may face being torn down after its neighbour was demolished over four weeks in 2014
The coastline at Birling Gap pictured in 1940, when all seven coastguard cottages remained intact
The historic cottage is now just inches away from the cliff edge
Particularly poor weather in 2014 meant that three metres of cliff being lost in just three months.
Engineer Graham Kean, of Wealden District Council, warned that the fourth cottage – which is now perilously close to the cliff edge – had a life expectancy of just 10 years, and in 2023, that life expectancy is coming to a close.
The National Trust, which is responsible for this stretch of coastline, has warned that with more extreme weather coastal erosion could accelerate.
The National Trust owns more than 740 miles (1,191km) of coastline around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, around a tenth of the total coastline for the three countries.
Due to fears about the coastline’s safety, Wealden District Council confirmed on Wednesday that the steps down to the beach at Birling Gap would be closed until Friday morning.
Coastal erosion is a danger across large parts of the British Isles’ coastlines.
Last week the final bungalow left in a crumbling cliffside community was demolished after being left just 1.8m away from the cliff edge.
Hemsby, around 15 miles east of Norwich and seven miles north of Great Yarmouth, has seen six properties demolished this year due to the coastline’s rapid retreat.
The National Trust, which is responsible for this stretch of coastline, has warned that with more extreme weather coastal erosion could accelerate
Due to fears about the coastline’s safety, Wealden District Council confirmed on Wednesday that the steps down to the beach at Birling Gap would be closed until Friday morning
Bulldozers moved in as the female owner told MailOnline she was ‘heartbroken’ by the decision.
READ MORE: Baby monitor captures terrifying moment mother rescues her newborn as 104mph hurricane-force winds shatter her bedroom window sending shards of glass flying towards them during Storm Ciaran
The council said it had offered her ‘all the appropriate support.’
Earlier this year, the Government said a planned sea defence project for Hemsby did not qualify for funding to be put into action.
The fears over erosion came as storm Ciaran caused chaos across southern Britain as 104mph gales saw thousands of homes lose power, schools close, railway lines blocked and ferries cancelled.
The Channel Islands were worst hit with dozens of homes on Jersey evacuated as a tornado blew through, trees were ripped up and huge hailstones smashed windows.
Hundreds of schools in southern England shut because of risks to pupils and a major incident was declared in Hampshire due to concerns over pressure on local services.
While the Met Office amber warnings have now ended, yellow warnings for wind and rain will remain in place for southern England and Wales until midnight tonight.
A rain warning for the east coast from Hull up to Aberdeen runs until 6am tomorrow, before a further warning for South East this Saturday from 3pm until midnight.
The Met Office confirmed Storm Ciaran set a new record for the lowest mean sea level pressure recorded in England in November, with a value of 953.3 hPa (mb) at Plymouth in Devon – compared to the previous low of 959.7 hPa (mb) set in 1916.
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