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Happisburgh coastguard HQ in danger

PUBLISHED: 10:24 10 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:16 03 July 2010

Coastguards at erosion-hit Happisburgh are looking for a new home as the cliffs edge closer to their front door.

The village has had a coastguard station for more than a century, and its current headquarters down at the end of Beach Road dates back to 1994.

Coastguards at erosion-hit Happisburgh are looking for a new home as the cliffs edge closer to their front door.

The village has had a coastguard station for more than a century, and its current headquarters down at the end of Beach Road dates back to 1994.

But the lifeboat station next door closed in the winter of 2002 after its ramp was swept away in a storm and has relocated a mile down the coast at Cart Gap.

Now, the coastguards are looking to follow suit as the waves eat away at the cliffs, which are now less than 10 metres away.

Station officer Keith Griffin said the irregular rate of erosion meant they did not know how long they had left. But he feared that one bad surge could see the access road being closed for safety reasons, leaving the clifftop base cut off.

So, the search is on for a replacement building big enough to take the unit's new Nissan Navara 4x4 pick-up truck.

In the future it could be inland rather than on the coast. The team is already putting out feelers in the Walcott, Ingham and Stalham areas.

Mr Griffin said coastguard technology no longer relied on clifftop stations manned by people with binoculars but responded to electronic communications alerts.

While the local team was searching for a new base, which could be a large garage or an industrial unit, the final decision would be taken by coastguard bosses.

The Happisburgh unit covers a stretch from Walcott to Waxham Sands caravan park and helps out on the Broads. Its team of seven volunteers helps with shoreline searches and rescues, provides communication back-up for the lifeboats and deals with items found on the beach, from dead porpoises to unexploded bombs.

The team is also seeking two more people to join its existing crew, who include poultry farm managers, builders, a carpenter, electrician, bus driver and boatbuilder. Volunteers must be able to dash from work to answer 999 calls and live within three miles of the station.

Anyone who has a potential new base or wants to be considered as a volunteer can contact Mr Griffin on 07786 510583.

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