Renewed pleas to heed cliff warning signs before 'someone else dies'

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Cliff fall at Cain's Folly. Picture Graham Hunt Cliff fall at Cain's Folly. Picture Graham Hunt

AS the anniversary of Charlotte Blackman’s death after a 400-ton rockfall near Burton Bradstock nears and the cliffs continue to collapse, the warnings are that someone else could die.

Repeated warnings and safety advice are being ignored despite another rockfall near Charmouth, says Phil Davidson, geologist at Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre.

He said: “The bottom line is they could die and people have. You wouldn’t be out of order saying that to people.

“Even the size of a golf ball falling from the cliffs could be fatal.

“People are putting their lives on the line going too close.

“It doesn’t matter how many signs you put up people will either not read them or ignore them.

“Nobody wants a repeat of what happened to Charlotte.

“That’s why the council and the Jurassic coast team employ the fossil warden for the school holidays to walk up and down the beach in Charmouth and Lyme to basically talk people down or away from the cliffs.”

As our picture, inset, of West Bay last weekend shows safety calls are going unheeded with people even pitching tents right next to rock falls .

Mr Davidson added: “If something has fallen that day or the day before the area that has fallen is going to be very weak and prone to more falling down.

“In some cases you get people wanting to go and look even as it is tumbling and falling down.

“It is lunacy.”

He said the very wet winter, followed by warmer weather and severe storms had exacerbated the situation.

And the cliff at Cain’s Folly near Charmouth is crumbling, experts have said. The Charmouth cliff fall was witnessed by members of the public on the beach who alerted Portland Coastguard shortly after 6pm on Sunday, June 15.

Lyme Regis Coastguards rushed to the scene to check nobody was injured and advised members of the public that cliffs in the area remain unstable, and to adhere to safety advice signs.

It was after the wet weather in the summer of 2012 that 22-year-old holidaymaker Charlotte Blackman was killed by a rockfall.

At the inquest her father Kevin said the fall happened ‘in the blink of an eye’.

Two days after Miss Blackman died, another ‘sizeable’ landslip also took place 1,000 metres east of Charmouth.

Cain's Folly, part of the cliff face at Stonebarrow Hill, is about 140 metres high but 50 metres lower than neighbouring Golden Cap, the highest cliff on the south coast.

'Take as much care as possible'

ROB Rhodes, head warden and countryside manager for the National Trust in West Dorset, which owns land near Stonebarrow Hill, said they were constantly monitoring the situation in Charmouth.

He added: “I cannot stress the importance of our safety message for the public following the cliff fall.

“We would strongly urge them to adhere to the safety notices around that area and to keep an eye on the tide so that they do not get cut off.

“It's also important for people to take as much care as possible and keep away from the cliff edge.”

Richard Edmonds, earth science manager for Dorset County Council's Jurassic Coast team, added that it is impossible to predict where the next rock fall or landslide may take place - but because of this it is even more important that people heed the safety warnings.

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