Warning about potential cliff falls after prolonged dry weather

·2-min read
Previous rock fall at Chale Terrace. Picture supplied by the IW Council.
Previous rock fall at Chale Terrace. Picture supplied by the IW Council.

PEOPLE are being urged to stay away from cliff bases and edges due to an increased risk of rock falls.

The Isle of Wight Council has issued the warning, saying people should not underestimate the risks they are taking when they stand on top of cliffs or walk directly underneath them.

Scroll down for video of a recent cliff fall

In extreme temperatures, the risk of rockfalls along the Island's coastline is greater than usual.

Heat causes rocks to expand and, particularly during temperature fluctuations, any pre-existing cracks can widen, and new cracks can also form.

This makes cliffs potentially more unstable and rock falls more likely to happen. Heavy rainfall forecast this week could also weaken the cliffs, with potential for further rock falls.

The Isle of Wight is famous for its spectacular coastline, which is constantly eroding and moving.

Cllr Karen Lucioni, Cabinet member for public protection, said: "Rock falls and landslides are unpredictable and can happen at any time, but we do know which conditions make them more likely, and prolonged hot and dry spells are one of them.

"We would encourage everyone to stay away from the base of cliffs, and if you are walking along the coast paths, keep well away from the edges. It is easy to enjoy the Island's beautiful coast without putting yourself or others at risk."

The Island's coastline has a number of areas with an increased potential for rockfalls, particularly at Yaverland and along the south west coast at Brook and Compton.

The Coastguard has issued the following advice for beachgoers:

  • Do not sit under the cliffs.

  • Keep children off the rock falls and mud slides.

  • Keep dogs on leads so that they do not go exploring.

  • Do not climb or go near the rock falls for the sake of a 'selfie' — your life is worth more than a photo.

Cllr Jonathan Bacon, Cabinet member for coastal management, said it was important for people to heed the warnings.

"People come from far and wide to enjoy our coastline, but the beauty hides many dangers," he said.

“Rocks can and do fall from above without warning, and you will be in danger of getting crushed or trapped.

"As well as this, if you’re walking on the clifftop, you can’t see cracks and overhangs beneath you. Chalk, particularly, is very unstable and can crumble without warning.

“We want everyone to enjoy our beautiful coastline, but to do so safely and be aware of the dangers.”

If you see someone in danger on or near cliffs, call 999 immediately and ask for the coastguard.