The disappearing Wash

There was an article in the Times about erosion and the disappearance of a large amount of the east coast of England. There simply isn’t enough money around to build adequate sea defences to protect every cliff-dwelling house looking over the North Sea. You feel sorry for the individuals – but surely this was always a probability if you chose to live so dangerously?

But it is not a one way traffic. On the Wash – the strange area of water that divides Lincolnshire from Norfolk - the sea is receding. On the Norfolk side there are dykes behind which are hundreds of acres of rich sticky farmland that is quite different to the sandy loam further inland. This was reclaimed in the 1960s. What is interesting is what has happened to seaward of the dyke which, when it was built, was a sea wall onto which the North Sea broke.

Now it is marshland - invested by the high tide and awash at springs – but now definitely of the land rather than the sea: hundreds of acres of honking geese grazing on the salt-resistant grass and samfire before it peters into the sea. This process has taken only fifty years and when the next dyke is built that marsh will desalinate and become the rich goo that makes Fen farmers so prosperous.

You win some; you lose some.

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