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Shocking photo shows extent of recent erosion at Birling Gap
1:00pm Tuesday 11th February 2014 in News
A military enthusiast has posted a picture which shows how Birling Gap has lost several feet of clifftop already this year.
Peter Hibbs, who researches WWII pillboxes along the Sussex coast, posted the picture on Twitter last night, warning that the latest falls put Birling Gap Hotel and cottages above at even greater risk of falling into the sea.
The picture was taken on January 2 this year, and the shaded area shows the amount which has since fallen into the sea.
He has also posted the picture without the shading, and one taken yesterday showing what the clifftop looks like now. Both have the same patch of lichen highlighted as a reference so you can see how much has fallen.
He said: "I think it's loss is inevitable, unless drastic intervention occurs..."
He has also estimated the hotel is now just four metres away from the clifftop.
Estimate of cliff erosion at Birling Gap so far this year - hotel and cottages threatened! pic.twitter.com/sdJGtL6KEX— Peter Hibbs (@sussexPillbox) February 10, 2014
Yesterday, Newhaven coastguard Barry Johnson warned people to stay away from the cliffs. He told The Argus: "Birling Gap has also experienced multiple cliff falls over the past week resulting in the beach being closed to the public.
"If you see any persons in difficulties on the coast do not attempt a self rescue. Dial 999 and ask for the coastguard who will task properly trained and equipped rescue personnel."
The hotel has been owned by the National Trust since 2010, although much of its space is unused.
Following the latest cliff fall last week, it closed its cafe area and the steps.
The average rate of erosion at Birling Gap is about one metre a year, although it tends to happen in sudden bursts, such as last week's dramatic fall.