Field trip to the coast and broads

One of my modules went on a field trip about coastal management and coastal defenses on the Norfolk coast today. May not sound immediately thrilling, but it is about people having to leave their houses because the government decided it doesn’t make sense to try and keep the coastline where it is at any price any longer: They have come to realize that preventing erosion in one place means depriving another place of sediments and thus more erosion there. Adding rising sea levels to this, you get a picture of a coastline that will change anyway.

One of the houses that will probably go over the cliff within the next decades

What makes it more annoying for those immediately affected: Bigger towns and the nearby gas terminal will continue to benefit from renewal of coastal defences…
The latter however is not sure to me: Our lecturer had told us it isn’t, a local campaigner said it is. We went to look at one of the villages that has been and will lose more houses due to cliff erosion and to a nearby lower coast area protected by sand dunes. Clearly, there was an amusement arcade next to the beach – it wouldn’t be the seaside without that (all those other places in other countries that you are used to call seaside even though they don’t have one just don’t really count ;-)).

Remaining coastal defences in the front left. Where they broke down some years ago, erosion has massively accelerated.

I had only just resisted the temptation to come to the field trip in my full Fell Club trip gear – but walking boots, my new waterproof jacket and the fleece and waterproof trousers in my backpack were still more than was necessary for this wonderful sunny day on the coast.

The most useful bit of equipment was my camera – mostly when we went to look at the Norfolk broads, a landscape full of lakes, canals and wetland created by peat extraction in the middle ages. This may eventually become a (salty) marshland if coastal protections are abondoned.


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