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Furious locals living along crumbling Norfolk coastline say government has ‘betrayed’ their community because they won’t benefit from £25m sea defences


  • Happisburgh residents are set to lose everything if things don’t change

Locals living along a crumbling coastline that is under threat of being washed away by the tide say the government has ‘betrayed’ their community. 

Works to build rock defences at Cromer and Mundesley, in Norfolk, got underway last week as part of a £25million government-funded scheme.

However, Happisburgh will not benefit from the initiative – despite erosion progressing at twice the projected rate.

Happisburgh’s famous lighthouse, 15th century church and village pub could all soon be claimed by the North Sea if things don’t change.

Bryony Nierop-Reading, 78, whose Beach Road home is next in line to be lost to the sea, said locals are ‘livid’ that the village has not received any funding.

Bryony Nierop-Reading, 78, watches her street being demolished in December last year

Bryony Nierop-Reading, 78, watches her street being demolished in December last year

The coast along Happisburgh in 2023
The Happisburgh coastline in 2012

In just 10 years, large parts of the coast have been eroded. Picture on the left was taken in 2012 while the right was taken last year

The cliff's edge is inching its way towards the homes of locals in Happisburgh

The cliff’s edge is inching its way towards the homes of locals in Happisburgh

An aerial view of the coastal erosion at Happisburgh in Norfolk in November 2023

An aerial view of the coastal erosion at Happisburgh in Norfolk in November 2023

She said: ‘We feel betrayed by the government and that it’s totally unpatriotic to let chunks of the country, like Happisburgh, be lost to the sea.

‘I don’t think there’s anybody in Happisburgh who’s not upset by this. We’re in as much need as Mundesley is.’

The Save Happisburgh campaigner was forced to move into a caravan and then into a semi-detached home known as The Old Coastguard further inland in 2017.

She now fears she has just months left in her three bedroom home as once again it is being threatened by the cliffs which are just 80 feet away.

Clive Stockton, who has owned the Hill House Inn for more than 30 years, said thousands of years of heritage is set to be lost.

He said: ‘The vast majority of people have no idea what’s at risk of being lost.

‘All that we own, our only asset the pub and our home, is now worthless.

‘The government has stolen our retirement, which is no longer an option.’

Hundreds of homes, businesses and the village’s clifftop car park is at serious risk of falling into the sea. 

Bryony Nierop-Reading at Happisburgh beach last month

Bryony Nierop-Reading at Happisburgh beach last month

The coastline in 1998
The coastline last month

The coast has been severely eroded over the last two decades. Picture on the left is from 1998 and the right is from last month

The villagers homes have been rendered valuless by the threat the sea poses

The villagers homes have been rendered valuless by the threat the sea poses

Some homes are only a few years away from being consumed by the ocean

Some homes are only a few years away from being consumed by the ocean

Coastal erosion on the East Anglian coast has hit the headlines in recent years with more homes destroyed in the seaside village of Hemsby, Norfolk.

Liz Howard, who lives on the front line in Beach Road in Happisburgh, added: ‘Every morning we look out of our windows to see how much closer it’s getting.

‘I look at Happisburgh as a place of medieval history – a settlement for thousands of years which people still call home today.

‘In the long term, what are they doing to Norfolk if Happisburgh is washed away?We’ll lose all that history.’



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