Photo shows large crowd near cliff edge at Birling Gap despite warnings about ‘very fragile’ chalk

A reader has submitted a photo this afternoon (Saturday, March 30) that shows a large crowd of people close to the cliff edge at Birling Gap.

The image comes after repeated warnings of the danger of standing too close to the edge.

A warning about Birling Gap at reads: “Our white cliffs are beautiful but also very fragile. They may appear safe to stand on, but chalk is a soft rock that can be softened further by heavy rain or undercut by wind and wave action. This means the cliff edge is very unstable and at risk of collapsing at all times. It is unsafe to stand on or near the edge and near the base of the cliffs. Always keep at least 5m back from the cliff edge and the base of the cliff, even when the sun is shining.”

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency issued some safety advice too.

A spokesperson said: “The cliffs along the UK coastline are continually eroding, with pieces falling from them that can be just a few small rocks or as large as a car. It’s impossible to predict when the next piece might fall or how big it will be. Periods of intense rainfall will often make cliff edges more vulnerable. We really can’t stress enough how important it is to keep back from the edge. There is no ‘safe’ place to be. If cracks have appeared even if they are several feet away from the edge, don’t be tempted to go and investigate and don’t risk going to the edge to get a dramatic picture.”

They added: “Don’t attempt to climb cliffs as a short cut. When standing at the bottom of a cliff, we would always advise people that they shouldn’t stand less than the height of the cliff away. That means that if the cliff is 25 metres high, don’t go closer than 25 metres towards it.

Other tips include:

Carry a mobile phone and tell someone where you are going and what time you will be home.

When you’re out make sure that you use designated paths, take notice of warning signs and don’t take unnecessary risks.

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency said: “If you see anybody in trouble or if you get into difficulty, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard’.”

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