Coastal Erosion At Naze And Seawick After Tidal Surge Dec 2013

The north east  of Naze and Seawick are two places in Tendring suffering from bad coastal erosion which was worsened by the Dec 2013 tidal surge.

The Naze

In January 2013 the view from cliff at north of naze was


And by 6 December was


A closeup highlights the line of the fence has changed (presumably before the surge unless someone got up very early)


In the January picture there are 10 up right posts counting from left, by December only 5.  Another chunk of cliff has bit the dust.

The view from the beach in January was



In October 2013 (note the pipe sticking out of cliff and touching beach)


6 December looks like this

beachNorthEastNazeDec2013The pipe is now nearly horizontal

It seems someone is piling rubble at the base of the cliff, presumably in an attempt to slow or halt the erosion.

In my view this will not work, what would work is building groynes so a bank of dry sand builds up between the cliffs and the sea, preventing the sea from reaching the cliffs.

In addition it would be necessary to sculpt the cliffs as has been done by Sunny Point, and in Frinton.


When I took photographs in October plenty of other people were out and amazingly some were actually pulling bits out of the cliff.  Perhaps they felt it was not eroding fast enough so they lent a hand.



This picture of Alan Underwood’s shop at Seawick with the reef in front of it was taken in August 2012.


I went back to Seawick in October 2013 and wondered

Where is Alan’s shop?


Although the shop had gone the sand platform on which it had stood was clearly still there.

But by 6 December it had been washed away, presumably by the surge earlier that day.


The spring tide also meant an unusually low low tide and I was able to walk the sea side of the reef which is clearly covered in weed indicating it is covered by the sea some of the time.  This means the reef will not work to stop the sea moving the sand from the beach, in contrast to the very next groyne less than 100 yards to the north.



The groyne to south has weed on the lower part, and none on the high part – indicating this is not covered by the sea.

You might have thought Environment Agency or whoever built the reef and groynes would realise this and do something about it, considering EA is responsible for sea defence.


This picture taken in October 2013 shows how the sea had eroded the path (almost a road) which ran the sea side of the sea wall.


On December 6 it looked like this.


The sea has clearly reached the sea wall, spreading shingle everywhere and washing away what was left of the path at this point.

Behind the sea wall at this point are houses and caravans.  These will be flooded when the sea breaks through the sea wall which it certainly will do if nothing is done to stop it.


The bizarre and annoying thing is that what needs to be done is not a mystery, in fact it has been done successfully within a few hundred yards by EA.


In August 2012 the view of beach and groyne looking north was


There were are few rocks on the beach, which was mainly shingle.

By December 2013 someone, presumably EA, had placed a load more rocks on the beach.


I don’t know why they bothered.  This will not work, the sea can get behind the rocks and wash the sand away.

Go to Holland-on-Sea by Flags Cafe and see the rocks which were placed against the sea wall.  The sea just washed the sand from underneath the rocks and they dropped lower down the sea wall.

The sea can even erode under a sea wall especially if there is a promenade, as there is at Holland-on-Sea.  We know this because a digger fell through in 2011


Just few hundred yards to north the scene is very different  – looking south


looking north


Why the difference?

In my opinion it is because the groynes are

  • Closer together
  • Sufficiently high near the sea wall they are above the sea even at high tide

At Jaywick even better groynes have been built.  I reckon I was about 150 paces away from sea wall when this photo was taken.


This means there is normally at least about 150 yards of dry sand between sea and sea wall, so the sea can not get at the wall to erode it.

The groynes help keep the sand in place unlike further south at Seawick where, without groynes, the sea can just wash the sand and shingle away.

There are some traces of sea weed on the sand


and even by the wall


I was told the sea got to within 1/2 meter of top of wall,  though I don’t know if this is correct.  But the sea weed indicates the sea made it to the wall.


EA’s Shoreline Management Plan2 is now government policy.

The policy for the northern sea facing part of the Naze is

No Active Intervention

In other words let the sea wash it away.

I would have thought Tendring District Council might show some interest in protecting the Naze but the only comment I got was

Can’t got against the SMP

The policy for Seawick, Jaywick and St Oysth Marsh is “hold the line” until 2055.

If I lived at Seawick or Jaywick, and especially if I owned a caravan park there, I would be writing to EA asking how they intend to hold the line in view of the recent erosion.

After 2055 there is

a dual policy of either Managed realignment or Hold the line, depending on further work as part of the Local Development Framework.

Managed realignment means knock down the sea defences

Hold the line means maintain the sea defences.

I am mystified how it is possible to simultaneously maintain and knock down sea defences.

You might wonder if the sea wall could be left to deteriorate and then EA could say

It’s in such a bad state it will cost to much to repair

So coastal erosion is not inevitable or even necessary it can be halted by building groynes as has been done at Jaywick and Seawick.

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