'Heartbreak' as lifeboat struggles to launch from eroded beach

Hemsby lifeboat coxswain Daniel Hurd with Great Yarmouth mayor, Kerry Robinson-Payne during the coas

Hemsby lifeboat coxswain Daniel Hurd with Great Yarmouth mayor, Kerry Robinson-Payne during the coastal erosion crisis of 2018 in Hemsby.Picture: Antony Kelly. - Credit: Archant

The coxswain of an independent lifeboat service is calling for urgent action on coastal erosion that is "taking years" and putting lives and livelihoods at risk.

Daniel Hurd, whose boat launches from the beach at Hemsby, said he was at a loss to understand why more wasn't being done more quickly to protect the community.

The independent service attempted to respond to an alert on Tuesday (April 6) involving a "woman in distress" and although it was stood down at the last minute vital time could have been lost negotiating a step carved out by high tides and winds on Monday.

As it was the depleted beach had already started to recover and they probably could have made it to the waves, albeit not as quickly as the crew would like.

Easter erosion at Hemsby

The power of the sea became a tourist attraction in itself on Easter Monday. It has torn a 6ft step on the sands at Hemsby. - Credit: James Bensly

"It is a constant battle down there," he said.

"I have always said if there was a 10ft drop we would get the boat down there one way or another.

"It would have been a matter of getting shovels out, but it delays our launch time.

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"We were put under pressure last night, but before we had to launch the casualty was found and arrested.

"Getting this rock berm, there is too much talk and we want action not all this paperwork. It seems ridiculous.

"There are people losing their homes.

Demolition of houses at Hemsby. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Flashback: Demolition of homes in Hemsby in 2018 after the Beast from the East. - Credit: Archant

"It is heartbreaking when you see a nice coastline so damaged.

"The people in the summer love that beach and I am passionate about the coast.

"What the area brings in should surely outweigh the millions they would have to pay out for the scheme?"

A rock berm is being tipped as the most acceptable and affordable line of defence - although Mr Hurd favours groynes as a method of holding on to sand.

The cost and final design has yet to be worked out but is estimated at around £10m.

A public consultation is due to start later this month.

In the meantime it was up to volunteers and the goodwill of businesses making donations and offering their services for free or at a reduced cost to try and repair the damage.

The volunteer lifeboat crew is aiming to spend the weekend manoeuvring tonnes of sand to help build up the beach and also fill in dangerous gaps behind rocks.

The also plan to help householder Lance Martin whose stretch of dune was also badly damaged putting  his dream home at risk once again.

Lance Martin coastal erosion Hemsby

The land drops away like a sheer cliff face after a strong northerly wind and high tide combined to tear away material bringing Lance Martin's Hemsby home closer to the edge. - Credit: Lance Martin

Mr Hurd said while the berm was being worked out some financial help would be appreciated. Anglia Plant had always done their best to help and James Benlsy, ward councillor, had donated £400 of his allocated budget - but make-do-and-mend was not a solution.