Calls for rock berm and funding build as Hemsby bounces back

Hemsby Lifeboat coxswain, Dan Hurd, front, by the work to remove the two day old RNLI tower which w

Hemsby Lifeboat coxswain, Dan Hurd, front, by the work to remove the two day old RNLI tower which was washed over by the sea. With him are lifeboat crew membersJohn Hayden, centre, and Chris Batten, right; and Kenny Chaney, left, retired fisherman; and Peter Howlett, resident. - Credit: Denise Bradley

The planned sea defence for Hemsby beach has been recommended for approval.

The rock berm - which one villager said was "badly needed" - will be discussed at a Great Yarmouth Borough Council committee meeting on Wednesday, April 13.

Plans also include a timber ramp on Hemsby Gap to ensure visitors can access the beach and Hemsby Lifeboat can access the sea for offshore rescues.

This comes after strong surges and gale-force winds on Thursday, March 31, ravaged a lifeguard station and destroyed Hemsby Lifeboat's slipway - putting part of the Lifeboat Service temporarily out of action.

Workers remove the RNLI tower, built two days ago, which was washed over by the sea at Hemsby.

Workers remove the RNLI tower which was washed over by the sea at Hemsby. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Hemsby Lifeboat previously carried out restoration work of the village's coastline five days before the event.

Helmsman Chris Batten said although the team's work over the previous weekend had been undone by the bout of harsh weather, it had still helped the area brace for the harsh weather.

"If we hadn't repositioned the boulders last week, the sea would be right up to our station and people's homes by now," Mr Batten said.

Lance Martin's sea defences he has put in at his home on the edge of the cliff at Hemsby.

A resident's sea defences by his home on the edge of the cliff at Hemsby - Credit: Denise Bradley

Most Read

Mr Batten said the situation was "frustrating" as the crew will have to start again with repairs.

During the devastating weather, Hemsby Lifeboat's slipway was claimed by the sea and its offshore rescue service was only able to resume after the crew made a new path for their vessel.

By Monday, a slipway had been cleared, but coxswain Daniel Hurd said the newly formed shelf at the Gap will make the vessel's return to base more difficult.

Mr Hurd said: "It's now a worry getting the lifeboat back to the station because of the sharp incline left by the eroding sand.

"It's likely our boats might get damaged on return and this is just another cost to our service."

Hemsby beach and lifeboat station
Byline: Sonya Duncan

Hemsby beach and lifeboat station Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Hemsby Lifeboat will look at getting ground mats for its slipway to ease the retrieval of its lifeboat and is seeking further funding from authorities.

Kenny Chaney believes more sea defences at Hemsby are a matter urgency.

Kenny Chaney believes more sea defences at Hemsby are a matter urgency. - Credit: James Weeds

In November 2021, plans were submitted for a 1.3km sea defence in Hemsby, which could provide short-term protection for 20 years.

As of February, a decision on the plans had not been reached.

While planners have recommended permission for the rock berm ahead of Wednesday's meeting, there must be no objection from authorities such as the Environment Agency, Natural England and Norfolk County Council’s consulting ecologist.

Resident Kenny Chaney - who has been fishing and working on boats on Hemsby beach for over 55 years - said a rock berm by the Gap is "badly needed".

Mr Chaney said: "The last bit of the dunes is finally eroding and we only need one more tidal surge - like the one we had in 2013 - and then there will be nothing left to protect.

"Why it's taking so long to get permission to get this rock berm, I don't know.

"There doesn't seem to be any urgency at all."

Karen Thomas, head of Coastal Partnership East - the coastal management team for Great Yarmouth Borough Council - said: “We are working with Hemsby Parish Council, the Environment Agency, residents, and businesses to plan for the future coastline at Hemsby.

“Working with the community, the construction of a rock berm has been identified as an option that will work best here. We have applied for planning permission and other licences.

"However, funding any option to slow erosion on the open coast in locations such as Hemsby is challenging and we are exploring all possibilities."

Hemsby beach and lifeboat stationByline: Sonya Duncan

Hemsby beach and lifeboat station - Credit: Sonya Duncan

James Bensly, borough and county councillor for Hemsby, said the rock berm was essential for the village and urged the council to "get it through committee straight away" so residents could access funding for the planned project.

"These coastal communities need support and they need help," Mr Bensly said.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said he was sorry to see the recent damage in the village.

Mr Lewis added: "I have consistently supported work towards sea defences in Hemsby. However, this is not a simple process.

"I am hopeful that planning permission for the berm will soon be passed. That will give the owners of the beach, the community, local businesses, and local and national government agencies a clear goal to build a funding package around."