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‘It has saved me’ - clifftop homeowner hails DIY rock barrier as tides tear into coast

PUBLISHED: 15:44 30 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:44 30 March 2020

Lance Martin's efforts to protect his clifftop home in The Marrams, Hemsby look to have paid off after a weekend of wild weather  Picture: Liz Coates

Lance Martin's efforts to protect his clifftop home in The Marrams, Hemsby look to have paid off after a weekend of wild weather Picture: Liz Coates

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A householder’s DIY defences look to have saved his property as the region’s coast took a battering from storm-force winds and wild waves.

The weekend's wild weather has taken up to 5ft deep of beach in places at Scratby Picture: Liz CoatesThe weekend's wild weather has taken up to 5ft deep of beach in places at Scratby Picture: Liz Coates

Mother Nature’s two-pronged attack saw high tides and north easterly winds of up to 70mph scour huge steps in the sands, some stretches losing up to six feet overnight.

For Lance Martin, in The Marrams, Hemsby, it meant a sleepless night as waves tore into soft dunes below his teetering bungalow where a string of properties have already been abandoned and bulldozed before they toppled into the sea.

MORE: Toilet tumbles as home begins to collapse in Hemsby

He said: “It was more than fortunate that I put the defences in because we all thought it was going to be nice and calm until the winter next year.

“It was really bad. The wind must have been up to 70mph easy.

The line of rocks taking shape at the base of the dunes in February 2020. Lance Martin's home is behind the fence which sits on bread boxes, a surprisingly robust barrier Picture: Liz CoatesThe line of rocks taking shape at the base of the dunes in February 2020. Lance Martin's home is behind the fence which sits on bread boxes, a surprisingly robust barrier Picture: Liz Coates

“I had to put safety goggles on coming out into the garden because of all the sand and it was blowing me all over the place. The square blocks were in a nice square line.

“Without them I would have been vulnerable. The waves were crashing at the base of the blocks. It has saved me. It was pretty hairy.”

MORE: Gaping holes on clifftops are stark reminder of the erosion at Hemsby homes

Monday morning’s (March 30) bright sunshine and moderate breeze were in sharp contrast to the weekend’s wildness.

Plastic bread baskets that were doing their bit to hold the dune ridge were now hanging off, he said.

The home Lance Martin is battling to save is brimming with bright flower tubs. At the back it is exposed to the churning North Sea which two years ago took 40m of garden Picture: Liz CoatesThe home Lance Martin is battling to save is brimming with bright flower tubs. At the back it is exposed to the churning North Sea which two years ago took 40m of garden Picture: Liz Coates

The hope was that the sea would put back what it had taken away by the summer.

The former soldier won permission to reposition the giant blocks on the beach creating an impact zone for the waves, just last month.

He had previously mounted an audacious strategic retreat, pulling his bungalow back from the cliff edge to buy him more time in his dream retirement home.

And while a huge amount of sand had been grabbed exposing his buried defences and shifting one-tonne rocks, in other places there was too much of the stuff blown in front of the lifeboat station and cafe further along.

Rocks exposed on the beach at Scratby after a weekend of high winds Picture: Liz CoatesRocks exposed on the beach at Scratby after a weekend of high winds Picture: Liz Coates

Just south of Hemsby at Scratby the effects of the storms were clear to see with a 5ft vertical ridge in places.

In recent years Hemsby has become a poster community for coastal erosion, with dramatic images of homes hanging off cliffs seen around the world.

The case for protection and funding is still being made with residents and council arguing that the costs of coastal erosion to the economy, tourism, and seaside culture make defences worth fighting for.


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