27 October 2004
Looking back at the future.
The raging & rising sea.
A long time ago King Canute tried it and failed. But that hasn't stopped people over the centuries attempting the same thing - holding back the sea.
While I have great sympathy for people for the people who are trying to defend their homes, there is an old (and wise) saying about people in glass houses, and it equally applies to people living at the coast.
The edges of our counties are not hard rock. They are soft sand. And our history is full of tales of villages and towns that have disappeared below the waves. And that is not going to change.
Over the past few hundred years barriers have been built to control the sea in small sections of our coastline. But all they have done is to move the problem elsewhere. Nature cannot be controlled.
And it's not just the waves that are the problem. With the sand cliffs, the wind and rain play their part as well. A typical example is Happisburg in Norfolk where homes have been and are being lost. Even the slope for the lifeboat has now been destroyed despite the defenses.
Looking at the cliff-tops you can see the part wind and rain play...
With the sea levels predicted to rise, the water levels inland will also rise, and this brings us to another side of the problem.
Many square miles of what were once giant estuaries and natural flood areas of mashland in East Anglia have been 'reclaimed' over the centuries and with the height above sea level of these areas increasing over the years, when flooding does occur, the flood area will increase.
The future does not look good. With reports of the polar ice cap melting and global warming, the water levels will rise. And we could be going back to a landscape of long ago, which would mean (amongst other things) Gt Yarmouth going back to being a sand bank in a giant estuary.
But of course this isn't stopping the speculators from planning to build a Marina & Container Port in the sea next to the harbour mouth. And quite naturally, they are not bothered about how the increased traffic will affect the town. As with most large-scale developments in the region, the attitute is "Let's build it and make lots of money. Let someone else worry about road systems afterwards!"
The Hardwick Roundbout, Kings Lynn.
For many years travellers to Norfolk from the north cursed the Hardwick Roundabout - a junction of 6 roads with multiple traffic lights and ever changing lanes. In the centre of the roundabout stood a great mound that had been there so long people thought it was an Iceni burial mound! Actually it was part of an aborted plan to build an A47 fly-over many years ago.
Well, finally a fly-over has been built. And what a disappointment that is. It's just a single lane each way. And just to cock it up further, they put a roundabout at the Norwich end.