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Coastal management

Hazards from unstable cliffs

There are many miles of coastal cliff on the Anglian coastline, the majority of which are not protected by defences.  In winter months these cliffs are at increased risk of collapse from a combination of unusually high tides and storms. The effect of erosion by wave action at the base of the cliff increases the risk of cliff falls which typically happen both during, and in the days after, a high tide or storm. 

Although the landowner has some responsibility for the safety of persons walking on or below all cliffs within their land ownership, everybody should take extra care in these conditions. We will issue public information warnings via social media during exceptional weather conditions to warn beach users of the increased risk of harm from unstable cliffs.  

Pakefield Cliffs - January 2019

Due to recent high tides, the cliffs at Pakefield have suffered further erosion, particularly in the area close to Pakefield Caravan Park.

As a result, it is currently not possible to walk along the beach at high tide without walking close to the cliffs.

It is possible that further erosion may occur in this area, increasing the risk of cliff slippages.  We therefore advise members of the public not to walk in this area at high tide and avoid walking close to the cliffs at all other times.

Our Coastal Management team are working closely with the landowners, who have also been clearing debris from the beach and we will continue to monitor the situation.

The Suffolk coast is approximately 49 miles (79km) long and runs from Corton on the Norfolk/Suffolk border to Landguard Point in Felixstowe. There is also a further 83 miles (134km) of tidal edge within the Blyth, Alde and Ore, Deben and Orwell estuaries that lie within our district.

Responsibility for managing this coastline is split between the Environment Agency (for areas at risk of flooding), private ownership and the Maritime Planning Authorities (for areas at risk from erosion) which, for Suffolk, falls to our Coastal Management Team.

You can see how the responsibility for the Suffolk coastline is broken down on our Coastal Management responsibility map. For clarity on which organisation does what on a coast frontage please refer to our Service Area Responsibilities diagram which explains who should be contacted depending the issue.

We are directly responsible for 22 miles (36km) of the Suffolk coastline and have permissive powers (not duties) to carry out works over parts of this frontage to manage the risk of erosion. Currently there are hard defences (plus over 300 groynes) covering 12 miles (19.4km) of coast.

Coastal management can be broadly broken down into three sections: