Sightseers ignore landslip danger

PUBLISHED: 14:26 13 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:49 15 June 2010

PEOPLE have been putting themselves in danger by climbing in the landslip area at Lyme Regis despite warnings and a police cordon.

PEOPLE have been putting themselves in danger by climbing in the landslip area at Lyme Regis - despite warnings and a police cordon.Coastguards were called to the scene to give safety advice after people were seen to ignore the warnings. Over 300 metres of land crumbled onto Back Beach last week in what has been described as the resort's worst landslide in 100 years.A chunk of cliff on the World Heritage Coast site slipped not far from the East Wall, and people are being advised to avoid the beach area for up to 400 metres towards Charmouth.Signs have been put up to alert visitors to the risks, but people have continued to flock to the area - possibly in search of fossils - at the expense of their safety.West Dorset District Council's Planning and Environment Director David Evans said: "I would strongly advise people to keep away from the landslip for their own safety."Dorset County Council's Emergency Planning Officer Simon Parker added: "There are very real physical dangers at the site. There could be a quicksand effect if anyone tried to climb onto the slip and it would be very easy to become trapped."Added to that is the risk of falling rocks and earth, as well as items being released from the old landfill site. There's broken glass and other debris which could cause serious injuries."A multi agency group including Dorset County Council, West Dorset district Council, Police, Dorset Fire and Rescue Service and Environment Agency met to discuss how the incident will be managed. Although landslips are common along the stretch of the coastline, many are worried about the aftermath. A former landfill site, opened in Victorian times and closed in the 1970s, could be exposed, they fear.Lyme Regis Coastguard station officer Graham Turner said: "This is only the tip of the iceberg. About 30 or 40 years of rubbish will come out, even bits of a car, and there's nothing we can do with it. The whole tip will be on the beach."Graham Duggan from the district council said the district and county councils were working together with the Environment Agency to discuss how the site might be cleared of the debris.According to coastguards on the scene, the landslide last Tuesday could have been disastrous, if it had occurred at a busier time of the day.Lyme Regis coastguard Steve Staples said: "It was unexpected. It could have been very dangerous - there are some rocks as big as a car. Had it been on the bank holiday Monday, with lots of people around, it could have been a lot more dangerous."Alarmed residents heard a booming noise around 8pm and rushed to witness the earth's movement.Sheila Poupard, from East Cliff, said: "It was like a terrific clap of thunder that didn't stop. Around 300 seagulls all went swoosh up in the sky. We just saw it falling. It was fantastic but quite unnerving. I was just relieved to see it was two or three hundred yards away from my house."But earth science manager for the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Team, Richard Evans, felt the landslide was spectacular and exciting.While he said it was difficult to scale, he believed it to be as big as a landslide in the area in 1986."It's very exciting," he said. "We live for events like these. But some people were getting too close to find fossils. "It needs the sea to wash them away and then they might not be seen until next winter.""It's what makes our coast what it is - a beautiful, interesting and internationally important place.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Midweek Herald. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Midweek Herald