Along the north Norfolk coastline the cliffs are susceptible to coastal erosion. The prevention of coastal erosion is termed coast protection and is provided by Maritime District Councils such as North Norfolk District Council (NNDC). The council is responsible for both constructing and maintaining the defences on its frontage, in line with the guidance and criteria provided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and as set out in the Shoreline Management Plans. Defra also provide some funding for coast protection works.
The north Norfolk cliffs are basically comprised of a contorted mix of silts, sands, clays and gravels that were deposited during the glacial and interglacial phases of the last 2 million years. The cliffs provide little resistance to the aggressive action of North Sea waves, which erode the base of the cliffs. In addition, when the cliff material has a high water content it becomes unstable and, together with wave action, this results in slips & slides of large amounts of material along the coastline, leading to a general retreat of the cliff line.
For more information on coastal erosion please visit the Environment Agency's website.
Please access our Education pages to discover more about the geographical history, coastal processes and protection work carried out around the North Norfolk District Council coastline.