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'I am not giving up' - Former soldier's new tactic in battle to save clifftop home

PUBLISHED: 12:08 09 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:08 09 May 2019

Lance Martin in the aftermath of the Beast from the East  Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Lance Martin in the aftermath of the Beast from the East Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

As Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency delivered a keynote speech at London's Brunel University telling delegates "we cannot win a war on water" a former solder was re-drawing the battle lines in his efforts to save his Hemsby home.

Lance Martin's home in the The Marrams was hanging over the edge of the cliff before it was dragged away Photo: Liz CoatesLance Martin's home in the The Marrams was hanging over the edge of the cliff before it was dragged away Photo: Liz Coates

After last year's Beast from the East which saw 12 chalets bulldozed, Lance Martin was the only man standing after refusing to surrender to surging seas and coming up with some resourceful tactics.

His bid to save his home in the Marrams - one of 500 in England said to be at risk from erosion - comes as the Environment Agency calls on the country to prepare for an average global temperature rise of four degrees and be braced for the worst.

Setting out the long-term strategy for tackling flood and erosion up to 2100 the agency stressed that resilience and recovery were the watchwords with walls and defences only part of the solution.

The 61-page document calls for "a new philosophy" around flood and coastal management as the risks were accelerating due to climate change.

Launching the strategy Emma Howard Boyd said: "We need to move away from talking about flood defence. We cannot win a war against water.

Lance Martin outside his home in Hemsby where the ever-retreating dunes are claiming more homes. Photo: Liz CoatesLance Martin outside his home in Hemsby where the ever-retreating dunes are claiming more homes. Photo: Liz Coates

"We cannot build our way out of future climate risks with infinitely high walls and barriers."

But for Mr Martin if there was a will there was a way, and he was pulling out all the stops to save his dream home.

Chiming with the report he had already made his property more "resilient", replacing the flimsy chalet with something more sturdy.

"I am not giving up," he said.

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"I have been very lucky this winter, I have only lost about 4ft at the base of the dunes.

"The idea is to future-proof my property and if we have another bad winter I will be down there again hammering in defences to break the waves."

Mr Martin is preparing the plot opposite and will consider re-locating his home after the nesting season.

"I do not think they should give up the fight," he said.

"If the people are given the choice and the chance as they were following the 2013 surge they should be able to take it."

The report hails improvements made since the 1953 floods which saw 300 lives lost along the East Coast, but warns "no-one will be able to stop coastal erosion altogether."

It also calls for climate champions - people who understand the local risks and know how to act - to help communities to prepare and respond to flooding.

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