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Eastchurch residents told to stop DIY cliff fall repairs

image copyrightRLH Media
image captionA family fled as their home began to collapse over the cliff in May

Neighbours of a house that fell down a cliff have been ordered to stop their DIY attempts to prevent more landslips.

A family in Eastchurch, Kent, was forced to flee their home as the ground gave way beneath their feet in May.

Residents took matters into their own hands and began dumping soil over the cliff after authorities said nothing would be done to stop further erosion.

Swale Borough Council said it was worried about the environmental impacts and demanded the work stops.

Malcolm Newell, whose home is now second from the cliff edge, said they waited three months for authorities to clean up the debris, but eventually began work themselves.

image captionMalcolm Newell says residents are "fearing for their lives"

Residents set up a community company and agreed for a contractor to dump "surplus soil" at the site to try and build an earth barrier that would "stop any more crumbling away," he said.

"We are not using rubbish, it is good, honest clay," he added.

The environment agency and local authorities have agreed to a policy of "no active intervention" at the site since at least 1996, leaving residents to feel like "the forgotten few".

Mr Newell said: "People are fearing for their lives here, but they are not working to help anybody.

"[The council] said if you are worried, it's best to get out."

image copyrightRLH Media
image captionNeighbours have cleared up the debris of the fallen home

Swale Borough Council said it had issued a 28-day "stop notice" because the work needs planning permission.

"We are concerned about the ecological effect the soil dumping will have on the surrounding site of special scientific interest and other potential harm that could arise," it said.

It will now seek the opinion of Kent County Council, Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Residents have questioned the cause of the landslip and suggested it may have resulted from a "sinkhole" created by a burst water pipe.

However, a technical report found the cliff falls were contributed to by coastal erosion from below and groundwater running from above, the council said in August.

Related Topics

  • Environment
  • Coastal erosion

More on this story

  • Coastal erosion: The 'forgotten' community left to fall off a cliff