Lighthouse under threat

AN HISTORIC Suffolk lighthouse is at risk from coastal erosion after surveys revealed that the coastline is changing.The North Sea is getting closer and closer to the distinctive red and white Orford Ness lighthouse and concern is growing that the 99ft high building could become a victim of coastal erosion.

AN HISTORIC Suffolk lighthouse is at risk from coastal erosion after surveys revealed that the coastline is changing.

The North Sea is getting closer and closer to the distinctive red and white Orford Ness lighthouse and concern is growing that the 99ft high building could become a victim of coastal erosion.

Trinity House, which manages lighthouses around the coast of Britain, is carefully monitoring the erosion and it says it will address the threat of the landmark building falling into the sea ''long before there is any danger.''

During the winter of 2004-05 between six and seven metres of land between the lighthouse and the sea was lost. Another five metres was lost in the next two winters.

A spokeswoman for Trinity House said: ''The lighthouse at Orford Ness was more than 100 metres away from the foreshore for much of the last century.

''However, with coastal erosion accelerating over the past decade, it is now only 45 metres from the shingle shore.

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''We are currently monitoring the situation, but as part of a plan currently being developed for the lighthouse, we will complete a survey of the offshore to see what is happening to a reported shingle bank off the beach.”

Trinity House has placed marker stones on the shore to allow it to monitor the current rate of beach erosion. The spokeswoman stressed that a decision on the lighthouse's future will be made in consultation with all stakeholders and all options will be assessed.

Possible options include early demolition of the building and the siting of a new metal trestle lighthouse further away from the shore.

The lighthouse, near Woodbridge, has a light range of 20 miles. It was built in 1792 and it became the first lighthouse on mainland Britain to be automated in 1965.

There has been a lighthouse here since 1634. There were two lighthouses at one stage but one low tower was abandoned to the sea at the end of the 19th century.

Although the lighthouse has guided sailors for hundreds of years it has not been able to prevent some ships coming to grief on the shifting sandbanks off the shore.

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