Visitors to the spectacular white cliffs at Beachy Head and Birling Gap are being urged to stay safe this summer.
Each year thousands of tonnes of chalk fall from the cliffs, which stretch from the edge of Eastbourne, past Beachy Head, the Seven Sisters and Seaford Head.
In recent years there have been an increasing number of instances where, despite warning signs, people have stood near the edge of the fragile cliffs to look at the beach below or take a selfie, or walked along the beach close to the base of the cliffs.
With the summer months attracting even more visitors wanting to see and photograph the famous white cliffs and walk along the coastal path or beaches, councils and organisations along the East Sussex coast are highlighting the dangers.
The joint campaign is being promoted by HM Coastguard, The National Trust, South Downs National Park Authority, Sussex Wildlife Trust, East Sussex County Council, Seaford Town Council, Wealden District Council, Eastbourne Borough Council and Lewes District Council.
Cllr Claire Dowling, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport and environment, said, “Chalk cliffs are extremely unstable and can fall at any time, without warning.
“In recent years we have seen a significant number of cliff falls, including 50,000 tonnes from the cliff at Seaford Head, and frequent falls along the coast between Holywell in Eastbourne, Beachy Head, Belle Tout, Birling Gap and Cuckmere Haven.”
She said, “We want people to come to East Sussex and enjoy its beautiful coastline, but do so safely and be aware of the danger that chalk cliffs present.”
Despite monitoring of the cliffs, the vast majority of falls along the coast happen with no warning. Local councils have teamed up with HM Coastguard and landowners to continue to make sure the public are aware of the dangers.
Posters have been appearing on bus routes, at visitor car parks and tourist information centres, and on community notice boards, sharing important safety messages.
Cllr Dowling said, “There are many overhangs and cracks along East Sussex’s cliffs that visitors may not be able to see, and often people underestimate the risks they are taking. This is also true of those walking along the beach close to the base of the cliffs.
“It is also important for visitors to the coast to be aware of tide times as it is possible get cut off by the incoming tide or forced to walk beneath the cliffs.
“Our message to anyone visiting the area is enjoy the amazing views safely by keeping well away from the edge and base of the cliffs when on the beaches, and be aware of the tide.”
If visitors see anyone in danger or witness someone who has fallen, they are urged to call 999 immediately and ask for the Coastguard and not attempt to rescue them.