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Sheppey cliff collapse worsens overnight and photos reveals scale of erosion in Eastchurch

Shocking photos show how a cliff collapse which led to 20 households being evacuated has got even worse overnight.

A house is hanging off the edge with cars also near to slipping down the earth as it tumbles towards the sea in Eastchurch, Sheppey.

The Sheppey cliff collapse from the air this morning. Picture: RLH media
The Sheppey cliff collapse from the air this morning. Picture: RLH media

Occupants of the house, Emma Tullett and her four children originally left the building, staying in their bungalow which sits directly behind it, after large cracks appeared in the ground.

On Friday night, about two to three metres of land fell away from in front of the property, leading to 20 families in Surf Crescent, Third Avenue and Dawn Rise being evacuated by fire crews.

Google images captured earlier this year suggest the most at risk property was nearer 30 metres from the precipice before Friday's collapse.

All but two households were allowed to return yesterday, but some faced problems with their electricity due to the incident.

Today, people from six properties are being given help at an emergency rest centre and Swale Borough Council staff have assisted at least one family in finding temporary accommodation.

Drone footage of the erosion this morning. Video: RLH media

Running water was also stopped for a number of hours but was then switched back on again.

Malcolm Newell, who lives in Surf Crescent, has been campaigning to get more protection for the cliff-top homes since 2015.

The founder of Eastchurch Cliff Erosion Community Group thinks because the area falls within a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to fossils and species of plant found there, the authorities "have an excuse to not do anything".

"It is not only the properties it is affecting, but caravan sites, who've had to move dozens of caravans back over the years, and farmers who are losing a great deal of land," he said.

Emergency services were called again this morning as more of the cliff fell away. Picture: Kent Fire and Rescue Service
Emergency services were called again this morning as more of the cliff fell away. Picture: Kent Fire and Rescue Service

"It's also worrying because there are sewer pipes in the road, right near to where the cliff has come away."

He added: "We had a huge meeting with Natural England and put some environmental-friendly matting down at the top and planted trees but it wasn't enough."

Mr Newell says there needed to be wire cages filled with rocks at the bottom of the cliffs so when earth falls, it levels out, and more secure mesh at the top.

"If this was looked at earlier on and more was done, the cliff could have possibly been saved," he said.

"People complain that the money could be put to better use in the community, but we are part of the community - that's what's wrong here.

"I don't want to move, anyone would give a million dollars for that view, this was supposed to be the last stop for me."

The damage seen from the top of the cliff. Picture: Kent Fire and Rescue Service
The damage seen from the top of the cliff. Picture: Kent Fire and Rescue Service
Temporary accommodation has been found for the family who lives in the front house. Picture: RLH media
Temporary accommodation has been found for the family who lives in the front house. Picture: RLH media

A spokesman from Swale Borough Council said: "A further significant section of the cliff has collapsed leaving one property structurally unsafe and at increased risk of collapse.

"A small number of other properties close by have self-evacuated and some families are now being looked after by Swale Borough Council in a respite centre near-by."

Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s Technical Rescue Unit is at the scene supporting utility companies carrying out services.

Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Swale Borough Council, Kent County Council, HM Coastguard and the Environment Agency are working together at the scene.

Members of the public have been asked to stay away from the area due to the direct danger of further cliff collapse.

There are a number of road and footpath closures in the area and a large section of the beach close to the affected area of cliff has also been closed for the time being.

Read more: All the latest news from Sheppey


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