Coastal villagers in North Norfolk fear the North sea will claim their homes

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By Luke Hanrahan
A North Norfolk village threatened by coastal erosion
A North Norfolk village threatened by coastal erosion   -   Copyright  AP Photo

Residents of a village on England’s east coast, are quite literally living on the edge, as each year, cliff falls caused by coastal erosion see more of the land falling into the sea.

There was a record of Happisburgh in the eleventh-century Domesday book, but some of those living there fear its days are numbered, proof of the mediaeval English writer Geoffrey Chaucer’s saying that time and tide wait for no man.

In twenty years, 34 homes have vanished from the stretch of coastline in North Norfolk, and it is estimated that dozens more will disappear within the space of two decades as climate change accelerates the pace of erosion.

“We were in the middle of the road when I first moved here and now we’re on the edge of the cliff,” said resident Nicola Bayliss, who has lived in the village for 25 years.

There are just over a thousand people still living in Happisburgh. The local authority has offered to buy the homes most at risk, but some residents feel that local and central government agencies could have spent more in the past on bolstering sea defences to protect their homes.