Volunteers work to shore up Cuckmere Haven coastline

Cuckmere Haven
Image caption The cottages are perched on the cliff edge

Volunteers fighting to save cottages perched on the Sussex cliff edge are working to shore up the coastline.

The cottages at Cuckmere Haven with the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs backdrop have become a landmark and have appeared in films such as Atonement.

Residents and volunteers are spending Saturday and Sunday trying to shore up the cliffs with concrete at low tide.

The Environment Agency has stopped maintaining flood defences at Cuckmere but still clears shingle.

Image caption The cliffs are eroding at 30cm to 40cm a year

Resident Carolyn McCourt said the end of their privately-funded sea wall used to meet the beach maintained by the Environment Agency.

But she said: "The Environment Agency don't maintain the land they used to, so therefore our flank is now vulnerable and we have to secure that up."

'Magical setting'

She said residents had maintained private walls around the properties since the 1940s and still hoped to keep the cottages standing for the next 50 years.

Residents have run a fundraising campaign to help them pay for defence work, but Ms McCourt said: "We're all rather embarrassed to ask for money."

She said: "They are private properties but it's bigger than that and perhaps they are the finest examples of coastguard cottages in Europe, which is you know a special thing and in this setting, they're sort of magical."

Image caption The cottages are known as a landmark and have been used in films

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: "Following consultation, a strategy was produced for the Cuckmere.

"It showed that there is very little flood risk in the area and it was therefore concluded not to continue flood defence activities in the estuary on cost benefit grounds.

"However, we regularly clear shingle that accumulates in the mouth of the river if we believe it is increasing flood risk to properties up stream."

Image caption Cuckmere Haven is next to the famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs

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