Beach-goers spotted lounging under crumbling cliffs

A number of beach-goers have been pictured sitting directly under East Devon’s crumbling cliffs, despite an enormous sign warning them of the potential dangers.

Chloe Parkman www.devonlive.com (see online article for photo)

The photograph was taken last week near Sandy Bay as many people across the county raced to the coast in order to take advantage of the heatwave.

Beaches across the county were packed full as temperatures hit highs of around 30C in some areas of Devon.

The image which shows the beach-goers located right next to a yellow sign which reads: “DANGER – beware of falling rocks” has sparked upset in local residents to the area.

Following the scene, eye-witness Raymond Loades, said: “[This happened] at Sandy Bay Wednesday (July, 21).]

“Having seen this every time we go there for the last five or six years I felt it was time to try and get something done as when I usually point out what the notice says, the majority of the replies are unprintable.”

Raymond says that he posted the image on a local community Facebook page, raising awareness regarding the unstable cliffs.

In response to the photograph, one person wrote: “If people can’t read a simple notice surely we should leave them to the consequences. Maybe a lucky day.”

Another said: “That buggy right near the danger sign is a shocker too!”

Over the course of the year there have been a number of cliff falls along along East Devon’s coastline, particularly in Sidmouth.

DevonLive has reported on numerous cliff falls in Sidmouth, with four taking place last month alone.

A spokesperson for East Devon District Council said: “Cliff falls are a natural and unpredictable occurrence along the East Devon coast, this is because the rock from which the cliffs are formed is soft and therefore prone to rock falls and landslides, which can happen at any time, although heavy rainfall can trigger incidences.

“East Devon’s cliffs are a key part of the scenery that attracts visitors to the area, however the cliffs pose a very real danger and caution must be exercised when visiting them.

“Rock falls and landslides are unpredictable events, occurring without warning, and can cause serious injury or death.

“Warning signs can be found in areas managed by us.

“The absence of a sign does not indicate there is no risk and you should always take care around the cliffs of East Devon as all are made of soft rock and pose a cliff fall danger.

“Heavy rainfall can trigger cliff falls – but cliff falls are a normal occurrence along the East Devon coastline.

“It is good practice when on the beach to stay well clear of the cliff base and to keep an eye out for fresh fall material or water running down the cliffs, which may indicate an area that is weakened and loose. If in doubt, don’t walk under or near the cliffs.

“The Coastguard advises that beach users stay at least the height of the cliff away. For example, if a cliff is 20 metres high, a distance of 20 metres should be kept.

“If a cliff fall does occur and you suspect that someone has been injured, call 999 immediately.

“Do not explore recent cliff falls as there is a risk of further falls. A comprehensive guide to staying safe around beaches and cliffs is available from the Coastguard.

“We complete annual cliff inspections at sites we believe pose a risk in our land ownership/area of responsibility.

“This includes sites at Beer, Budleigh Salterton, Seaton and Sidmouth, as well as an inland cliff site in Exmouth at Plantation Walk.

“These inspections include removing loose material and additional safety works such as installation of rock netting.

“If you notice a recent cliff fall or any issues with our stabilisation interventions at any of the above locations, please get in touch with our Customer Service Centre.

“While this work aims to reduce the risk of incidents, we cannot guarantee incidents will not occur at these locations.

“We therefore recommend that where possible, you enjoy the cliffs from a distance and do not climb or sit directly beneath them.”

[Owl received eyewitness reports of a cliff fall in Budleigh a week ago towards Sandy Bay]

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