Coastal Erosion: Homeowner's Appeal For Help

Gerard Tubb, Sky News Correspondent

A great-grandmother whose home could be lost to coastal erosion before next Christmas has told Sky News she feels neglected and wants more to be done to help her.

Janet Ellis, 67, has seen so much of her cliff-top garden in Skipsea, East Yorkshire, disappear into the sea, she can now feel the force of the waves from her sofa.

"It's getting nearer and nearer and it's getting frightening," she said.

"When the high tide's here it rattles the cliff and it also shakes the house sometimes underneath and you can feel it, so you know the sea is getting nearer."

Her three bedroom bungalow, which she estimates should be worth more than £150,000, is worthless now that the waves are almost at her back door.

As the soft clay cliffs crumble away, Janet and a handful of neighbours will not only be forced out, but will have to pay around £15,000 each to have their homes demolished before they topple into the sea.

"I feel that we're neglected and we should have something done, even if they put boulders down to prevent the cliff [from eroding]," she said.

But Councillor Jane Evison from East Riding of Yorkshire Council told Sky News that holding back the sea from the isolated cliff top community is not an option.

"The Government says we can't protect the coastline, and we have to accept that argument and move on from that," she said.

The council has already spent most of a £1.2m 'Pathfinder' grant from Defra and is now calling for a national coastal erosion policy and specific funding to help people demolish their homes and move elsewhere.

"We're not asking for lots of money, we're not being unreasonable, but we would like a pot of money that we could bid for that would enable us to continue to manage the effects of erosion," said Cllr Evison.

"You can't turn your back on people that through no fault of their own are losing their homes - they are in a desperate situation."

Cllr Evison says they have already rehoused a number of people from cliff-top homes, and expect more will go to the top of the council house waiting list as houses are demolished and their occupants become homeless.

A spokeswoman from Defra said grants of up to £6,000 per property are available, but that no further funding was envisaged.

Janet Ellis says she is looking forward to Christmas at home with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, but doesn't like to think about the future.

"This is my home and I don't want to lose it," she said. "I just thought they'd do something [about the erosion] to keep my home so I can pass it onto my children, that's what I want. Someone should help us."

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