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Council closes two New Forest beaches amid coastal erosion danger

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Beach hut at Hordle Cliff, near Milford (Photo: Steve West)
Beach hut at Hordle Cliff, near Milford (Photo: Steve West)

A SECTION of shingle at Hordle Cliff near Milford was closed after erosion under the beach huts put them in danger of toppling over.

Signs were put up by New Forest District Council urging walkers to use the clifftop foot-path rather than risk going by the more than dozen potentially unstable structures.

A meeting was held on Tuesday between owners and NFDC officers which raised questions about the future of some of the huts and it is understood discussions are ongoing but no one was available to comment.

Another stretch of beach has had to be shut at nearby Barton cliffs after more landslips.

The edge is giving way along a section just west of Becton Bunny, near the golf course, where warning signs have been erected.

An NFDC spokesperson said: “Our coastal team monitor this area closely, and increasingly so during periods of bad weather.

“The coastline is undefended and subject to natural erosion processes, therefore cliff instability can occur at any time, especially after storms or wet weather.

“Our most recent visit to this active coastline has shown an increase in instability with new cliff failures occurring and fallen material on the beach.

“Further cliff falls are likely, so the decision has been made to close the beach directly below the unstable area of cliff – signs are in place.”

Information boards have been placed at the top and base of the cliff, as well as marker posts by the popular path to guide people away from the eroding edge.

The NFDC spokesperson added: “We would ask members of the public to read the information provided and to keep to the path. Please avoid accessing closed sections of beach and always take care when visiting the coast.”

As reported in the A&T, another significant cliff fall near Becton Bunny in May 2017 forced the temporary closure of a footpath.

Barton resident Mark Janicki said he fears the erosion could see the scenic path to Milford shut permanently, and even threaten homes in the long term.

He told the A&T: “It is a lovely walk, and in all weathers. In the short time we have been here I have noticed significant erosion, particularly where the sea defences end below Marine Drive East, heading in an easterly direction, past the end car park towards Milford.

“As you walk along the top of the cliff heading towards Milford, the path is narrowing quite significantly in a few places.”

The crumbling cliffs at Barton where the beach near Becton Bunny has been closed
The crumbling cliffs at Barton where the beach near Becton Bunny has been closed

He added: “I appreciate that monies are tight for councils but this would seem to be a significant issue for the area and one for long term planning with the Environment Agency. It is obviously a deteriorating situation. What is the plan?”

A research project was given the go-ahead last year to find out more about Barton’s crumbling cliffs with equipment installed on the undercliff below the car park off Marine Drive, just west of Hoskins Gap.

Scientists from the British Geological Survey fitted technology to monitor movement of the ground for up to five years.

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