Our beach is disappearing

COASTAL campaigners hope a “defences not damages” message will be taken on board by a new government minister visiting a trio of erosion hot spots today.

COASTAL campaigners hope a “defences not damages” message will be taken on board by a new government minister visiting a trio of erosion hot spots today.

Influential local pressure groups hope Defra's Richard Benyon will look closely and carefully at the problems of protecting seaside communities where lives and businesses depend on big beaches.

Brian Hardisty, chairman of Hopton's coastal erosion group, said abandoning the holiday village to the sea would leave a gaping �7.5m hole in the local economy - more than enough to fund improved defences.

The junior minister will visit Scratby, Winterton and Hopton today to see for himself the consequences of erosion.

At Hopton the sea has rapidly gnawed into once sandy beaches, reducing them to a thin shingly stretch. Locals suggest a link with Great Yarmouth's new outer harbour and point to Gorleston's recharged sands.

Mr Hardisty said he hoped the new man would bring new enthusiasm and ideas to the complex problem of tackling sea defences which was blighting homes.

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“We are looking for a commitment to stop houses falling in to the sea - it's as simple as that. We are not asking them to spend money now or next year what we want is commitment, if we get that houses will sell again.

“The beach is five to six feet below what it should be. On August bank holiday when it should have been packed it looked like a bomb had dropped there.

“If Potters and Bourne Leisure were to go that would cost us around �600,000 to �750,000 a year, around �7.5m over 10 years - more than enough to pay for sea defences.