Crumbling cliffs cause concern for West Somerset residents

Somerset County Gazette: CLLR Justine Baker said the cliffs need addressing as West Somerset welcomes visitors for Easter. PHOTO: Submitted. CLLR Justine Baker said the cliffs need addressing as West Somerset welcomes visitors for Easter. PHOTO: Submitted.

THE cliffs between Blue Anchor and Watchet are falling at an alarming rate and could soon threaten the main road to Watchet, residents fear.

The recent wet weather has resulted in the cliffs crumbling more and more.

Anne Cleeveland, from Watchet, said: “It is worrying and, unfortunately, this is something which happens when the weather gets bad, especially with the high winds.

“We were told that West Bay would never be developed on and then static vans were placed on a crumbling cliff.It’s just not safe."

A spokesman from West Somerset Council said: “We are fully aware of the cliff erosion at Blue Anchor and we have submitted a substantial bid to the Environment Agency.

“It is hoped the bid will provide enough funds to extend the sea wall protection, provide rock armour to break up the power of the waves and pin specific sections of the cliff, improving their stability.”

The bid was submitted at the end of January by officers at the district council, who are awaiting the outcome.

The spokesman added: “We are in regular contact and working with residents and the occupants of the clifftop inn.”

The district authority said they believe the highway is not in any danger in the immediate future.

A spokesman from the Environment Agency said: “The district council has applied to the Environment Agency for a grant towards a coastal defence improvements adjacent to the Blue Anchor Hotel.

“It is estimated the scheme will cost between £250,000-£500,000.

“Cliff erosion further along the coast towards Watchet is a separate issue and any possible re-routing of the main road as a result of further erosion will have to be funded by the local highways authority.”

Eric Robinson, a retired geologist and former professor at University College London who now lives in Watchet, said the coast is vulnerable to warps.

He added: “One of the reasons for the sort of delicacy of the coast is that you have got a very large crustal fracture – as in the earth’s crust-in the coast, coming through Helwell Bay and Watchet and hitting it out through the Bristol Channel north of Minehead towards Swansea Bay.

“That’s where the earthquake occurred; we hit 4.1 on the Richter Scale, but there are a lot more earthquakes happening without people being aware about it.

“That one just happened to be more noticed.”

Cllr Justine Baker said: “This is a key tourist area and, with the Easter holidays coming when the area will be welcoming tourists from across the country, the cliffs in this area need addressing as a matter of urgency.

“The cliffs have been causing problems for many years, however with the recent wet weather, local people are telling me they are crumbling at a faster rate and it is causing many in the local community huge concern.”

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