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Village set to vanish in 84 years on fastest eroding coastline in UK

An entire village is living on borrowed time as it is predicted to lose 97-metres of land to the sea within the next 20 years.

The old village of Happisburgh (pronounced Haisbro) is estimated to vanish before 2105 – and residents know they face an erosion like no other.

The community on the South East Norfolk coast is on one of the fastest eroding coastlines in the UK.

The vanishing coastline of Happisburgh is closely monitored

At St Mary’s Church prayers are said each week for the ­villagers, for the volunteers ­manning its famous red-and-white 18th-century lighthouse and for those who work in the North Sea.

But the congregation at this 14th-century church also pray for something else – its future.

In the next 30 or so years, it is also predicted that the Grade I-listed church, a 16th-century pub and many homes will be lost to the sea, as the Norfolk coast is swallowed up.

Some people, such as pub landlord Clive Stockton, think it will go long before that, according to an exclusive Mirror Online report.

Landlord Clive, 71, and his wife Sue fell in love with the village and the historic Hill House Inn as soon as they saw it 30 years ago. They bought the pub for £250,000.

Clive explained over a cuppa that when he bought the pub, the expected lifespan of the building was 300 years, as Government policy at the time was a ‘defended coastline’.

But that changed to ‘no intervention’, and then later it became ‘managed retreat’.

Since arriving in the 1,000-year-old Saxon village, Clive has witnessed coastal erosion claim 36 homes, three businesses, the lifeboat, the coastguard hut, the beach car park and the public toilets.

The static caravan site has already been forced to move back several rows.

Village set to vanish in 84 years on fastest eroding coastline in UK
Clive Stockton fell in love with the pub when he bought it but reckons it will swept away in 20 to 25 years

Clive, who serves on North Norfolk Council, said: “I now have a Grade II-listed building with an acre of land that has an incredible historical past but has no value.”

Pre-pandemic, the couple turned over around £400,000 a year, he said.

But now the pub is doomed and no compensation is available.

Clive added: “We have 20 to 25 years left here, if we are lucky.

“When the church and the pub go, or after the lighthouse finally ­disappears, thousands of years of history in this village will vanish.”

Nicola Bayliss, 45, moved from Cambridge after falling in love with the village on childhood holidays.

She said her parents bought a house on Beach Road in 2001 with a prediction of 150 years until erosion would take the property.

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A survey six years later revealed it had just 25 years left. But mum-of-two Nicola, who now lives in her parents’ property, thinks she has only 10.

She said: “I am an eco-refugee as I am going to lose my home as a result of climate change but I am one of the lucky ones as I have another property in the village I use as a holiday let.

“But I won’t be able to pass this on to my children and there is no compensation.

“I knew there was coastal erosion but there was a road, a whole row of houses and a field in front of my house so I wasn’t too concerned.

“But fast forward to now and the edge of the cliff is on my doorstep.”

Lance Martin, a former Grenadier Guard, bought his house in Hemsby, further down the Norfolk coast, in 2017 for £95,000.

The 63-year-old had hoped to see out his years there but his house is the last of a row of 13.

Around 100ft of cliff was lost to the tides when the Beast from the East battered the coast in 2018.

Lance said: “I’m a sound sleeper but I think I got about 10 minutes’ sleep on that night.”

Stormy weather in Easter took another 20ft.

Village set to vanish in 84 years on fastest eroding coastline in UK
The former solider Lance has made efforts to shore up his property

Lance has mounted a solar light on top of a nearby dune, to give him warning if it collapses.

His “plan Z” is to drag the entire house to an empty plot over the road.

On the opposite side of Britain, Mike and Jane Page bought their clifftop property so they could watch dolphins leaping from the sea below.

But the retired farmers are living in fear that their dream home is going to plunge 150ft into the waves.

A huge chunk of their garden in New Quay, ­Cardiganshire – one of the worst-hit areas in Wales – dropped three feet in a ­mini-earthquake caused by last winter’s storms.

The pair say the cliff edge is getting ever closer and one day soon it will reach their front door, part of the erosion affecting almost a quarter of the Welsh coastline.

Father-of-three Mike, 76, said: “We love living here, it’s where we want to spend the rest of our days. We try not to worry about it too much, we don’t want to lose the joy of living here.”

Jane, 78, who collects for the local lifeboat station, said: “Global warming must be having an effect, with the general rise in sea levels. But there’s nothing anyone can do to help us.”




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