One of the UK’s ‘best secret beaches’ could disappear soon

Covehithe Beach sits in the Benacre National Nature Reserve (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Covehithe Beach sits in the Benacre National Nature Reserve (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A Suffolk beach considered one of the UK’s best stretches of coastline could be lost to the North Sea in as little as 16 years.

Covehithe Beach in the Benacre National Nature Reserve has faced significant erosion over the last few decades.

According to the area’s Shoreline Management Plan (SMP), Covehithe’s cliffs are eroding at a rate of 4.5 metres a year – one of the highest rates in the country.

Covehithe’s sandy swathe is studded with tree branches and stretches towards Southwold’s Victorian pier, and it was named one of the UK’s best secret beaches in April by The Times.

The SMP intend to use the coastal erosion to protect other towns, such as Southwold, in the surrounding area.

“The erosion of the cliffs provides a major supply of sediment to the coastal system and this is essential for maintaining defence to other parts of the coast,” the coastal management group said.

Geological evaluations estimated that 500 metres of cliffside were lost to the sea between the 1830s and 2001.

Now experts have warned that the shore could disappear entirely by 2040.

The SMP say that preventing the high rate of erosion would be “technically, economically, or environmentally unsustainable”, and no defences will be introduced “due to their impact on other communities, or on sites protected for their environmental importance”.

Almost 300 metres away from the shoreline, the village of Covehithe including the Grade I listed St Andrew’s Church, could also disappear into the North Sea by 2110, say the Environmental Agency.

The UK shoreline has been feeling the effects of rising sea levels for years.

In December, demolition work began in clifftop homes in in Hemsby, Norfolk, a village hit by coastal erosion, high tides and strong winds that meant several properties in The Marrams were no longer safe to occupy.