High tides and rain put South coast on alert

Beach huts lifted and washed down the beach by the waves Image copyright Cheryl Fletcher
Image caption Several beach huts were lifted up and washed down the beach by the waves

High tides and heavy rain have led to coastal flood warnings and several cliff falls in Sussex.

The Coastguard has warned people to keep clear of the crumbling cliffs at Birling Gap after the chalk gave way during torrential rain.

Kent has three flood warnings in place after a high tide overnight, while properties are at risk near Jury's Gap in Sussex.

Several huts in St Leonards were washed down the beach by large storm waves.

Image copyright Coastguard
Image caption Access to Birling Gap beach was closed off after several more cliff falls

At Denge Marsh in Sussex, the Environment Agency said high tides had generated large waves along the South coast and removed shingle from Denge Beach.

The agency said tides would be at their highest from 1100 BST to 1500 BST on Monday, but staff would be assessing damage and replenishing the shingle.

The flood risk is set to increase through to Wednesday, particularly near Jury's Gap.

In Kent, properties and roads in Faversham and Conyer are at risk from high tides over the next four days.

Areas around the tidal Medway river and estuary are also being monitored, as are parts of the Isle of Sheppey near Leysdown.

Coastguards at Birling Gap put a warning out on Facebook urging people to "please stay away from cliff edges".

They posted: "There has been a series of cliff falls this afternoon in the Birling Gap area as well as the Seven Sisters. As a result, the steps at Birling Gap have been temporarily closed."

The unstable chalk cliffs along Birling Gap and Seven Sisters bring repeated warnings from coastguards during the summer when the area attracts walkers and tourists, and during autumn and winter when stormy weather increases the risk of cliff falls.

The steps that lead down to Birling Gap beach had to be moved two years ago after "significant" erosion. At the time, Wealden council said it was "another stark reminder of the relentless erosion taking place".

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