The Truth About Happisburgh


By Paul Homewood

There was a time when the BBC were more honest about coastal erosion in Happisburgh:

This report is from 2004:

And this is from 2003:

No mention of climate change in either report, just talk of nature and offshore dredging.

Meanwhile the BGS study, which I believe is from 2006, on Happisburgh is worth reading:

Happisburgh, on Norfolk’s North Sea coast, is a village with a population of 1400 people in about 600 houses. The village contains a notable stone church dating from the 14th century, an impressive manor house, listed buildings and a famous red and white striped lighthouse.

Although now a coastal village, Happisburgh was once some distance from the sea, parted from the coast by the parish of Whimpwell, long since eroded away. Historic records indicate that over 250 m of land were lost between 1600 and 1850.

More recently the village was affected by the tragic floods of 1953 that claimed the lives of 76 Norfolk residents.

Coastal defences built at Happisburgh have slowed down the rate of retreat. However, large sections are now in disrepair. Sea-level rise and climate change, including increased storminess, may also increase the rate of erosion….

It is likely that the Norfolk cliffs have been eroding at the present rate for about the last 5000 years, when sea level rose to within a metre or two of its present position (Clayton, 1989). Therefore, the future predictions of sea-level rise and storm frequency due to climate change are likely to have a profound impact on coastal erosion and serious consequences for the effectiveness of coastal protection and sea defence schemes in East Anglia in the near future (Thomalla and Vincent, 2003).


It is likely that the Norfolk cliffs have been eroding at the present rate for about the last 5000 years

Sure, they say that climate change MAY increase the rate of erosion, but this is mere speculation, and in 2006 there was no evidence it was actually happening.

Secondly there is a case study on Internet Geography, with a useful video:

Happisburgh (pronounced “Haze-bro”) is a settlement located on the Norfolk coast, eastern England. It has a population of around 1400 people in 600 houses. Although now a coastal village, this was not always the case. When founded over 1000 years ago, there was another village separating Happisbourgh from the sea. Historical records indicate that over 250m of land was lost between 1600 and 1850.

Happisburgh, situated to the southern end of one of the most active stretches of the Norfolk coast, is one of the primary providers of sediment for beaches along the east Norfolk coast. The coastal part of the village is subject to frequent coastal erosion: houses that used to be over 20 feet (6 m) from the sea now sit at the edge of a cliff and are expected to fall into the sea.

Sea Defences at Happisburgh

The civil parish shrank by over 0.2 km² in the 20th century by the erosion of its beaches and low cliffs. Groynes were constructed along the shore to try to stop erosion during the 1950s.

Sea defences were built in 1959 to slow the erosion. Changes in government policy mean that coastal protection in Happisburgh is no longer fundable from central government. The road (Beach Road) that leads into the sea is being steadily eroded.

A wooden revetment once stretched from Happisburgh to the Cart Gap seawall, but in 1990 a storm destroyed about 300 metres of it to the east of Happisburgh. The rate of erosion increased rapidly following the destruction of the wooden revetment.

In 1996 the remaining revetment was further damaged by storms, and another length was lost. At the time six cliff-top properties were lost.