Fresh calls for action over cliff erosion

ANXIOUS Fairlight residents have made a new plea for action to prevent further cliff erosion.

Their calls follow the completion, a few years ago, of a £4.3 million scheme aimed at protecting properties on Rockmead Road , including construction of one of the berms, cliff re-profiling, surface drainage, and a system of deep boreholes connected to a pump house to drain water from within the ground.

But now their are claims that the pumping house itself could be under threat as it is just 22 feet from the cliff edge.

Paul Capps, secretary of Fairlight Preservation Trust, said: “It was 32ft away, but in the past year we have lost 6.5ft If it continues at that rate the pump house will not be working within three or four years and £4.3m will be a total waste of money.”

Six houses were lost on Sea Road in the late 1980s and early 1990s after the road was breached, and before that a row of cottages also went.

Rother councillor Robin Patten, who also sits on Fairlight parish council, said work on new defences could cost anything between £3m and £10m.

“Money is limited. This funding can only come from central government. Rother has not got the money required and neither have the county.”

Some homes at Rockmead Road have already been lost to the sea.

In 2002 Nick Carter, then aged 82, clung on doggedly, living in a caravan in the few feet of what remained of his vanishing garden.

His bungalow became uninhabitable in 1998 and disappeared over the cliff a year later.

Erosion is also caused by water running off the Firehills and soaking into the cliffs.

Cllr Patten said: “I do have every sympathy because of where I live. I am aware of what problems the sea can do to you. But you live with it.”

He added: “You do have a much more fatalistic, realistic point of view living by the sea. You cannot fight it - you will never win.”