in Happisburgh the fear of “sliding gently into the sea” – Liberation


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In eastern England, global warming is accelerating coastal erosion. Faced with levee projects deemed expensive, some suggest letting nature take its course or moving to the public’s chagrin.

The main road, cracked on all sides, comes to an abrupt halt. Six meters of emptiness behind the concrete. At the end of summer, the wind blows strongly and the turbulent North Sea crashes violently onto the sandy cliffs of Happisburgh, a small coastal town in eastern England. A cloudy weather that its inhabitants fear more and more. “It is generally during this time that erosion accelerates”, comments Liz Dixon, owner of two cottages, as she strolls along the shore. The town of 1,400 inhabitants, known for its tranquility and charm, is unfortunately also popular for being the town that “glide gently in the sea”.

Five meters in six months

The UK is one of the fastest eroding countries in Europe. Within sixty years, more than 100,000 properties could be in areas at risk of coastal erosion, according to a 2018 report by the Climate Change Committee. Happisburgh is one of the hardest hit villages. Bryony Nierop-Reading, whose house is on the front line, counts the soil eaten away by salt water on a road sign that reads “Road closed”. In December, the barrier was 8 meters from the shore, compared to 3.4 in June, its inscriptions in black felt reveal. This is a loss of almost five meters in six months, while the national average does not exceed two.

“It’s not a very fast advance compared to what we normally see,” reports the Septuagint…


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