Sussex

Danger alert over Seaford Head chalk cliff cracks

Crack in cliff Image copyright Wayne Spring
Image caption Cracks have opened up in the chalk cliff at Seaford Head prompting safety concerns

Large cracks have opened up in the chalk cliffs in East Sussex, prompting warnings for people to stay away from the edge and the base.

Newhaven Coastguard said the cliff on Seaford Head's coastline could give way at any time and thousands of tonnes of chalk could fall.

It said rain and frost were to blame and geology experts have said the area is "extremely dangerous".

The council said the area had now been roped off with warning signs put up.

People are urged to "keep well away" from the damaged cliff edge and base.

'Crushed'

Coastguard Barry Johnson said: "This particular big crack that we've been made aware of today is very close to the footpath and it may not be evident from the footpath that there's a danger a few metres away.

"We'd always urge people to keep a good 5m (16ft) away from the cliff edge at any time of year."

Adding that the cliff base was also a danger, he said: "Potentially thousands of tonnes of chalk are going to fall.

"So if you're on the beach below, obviously that could fall and could go out a good 50m (164ft) from the edge of the cliff, so you'd be crushed."

Image copyright Wayne Spring
Image caption Rain and frost could be to blame for the appearance of cracks in the cliff

Mr Johnson said the council may put up extra warning signs, although cliff edge signs were already in place.

Geologist Professor Rory Mortimore said cracks could also stretch back 10m (33ft) to 15m (49ft) into the cliff and were a hazard to walkers.

He said the cliffs were "extremely dangerous" to anyone walking near the edge or underneath.

"It could give way at literally any moment, so people need to keep well away from it, certainly don't go walking across that crack," he added.

'It will collapse'

James Corrigan, Seaford Town Council clerk, said a 5m (16ft) area - not at the top of Seaford Head but next to the golf course - was in imminent danger of collapse.

He said the area had been roped off with signs put up to warn people away.

"We are letting nature take its course," he said. "There is nothing anyone can do. It will collapse."

Mr Corrigan said there had already been a cliff collapse in the same area recently and this was not the first section to go.

Image copyright Wayne Spring
Image caption A number of cracks have been spotted

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