Walkers enjoying the sunshine are being urged to stay safe along the Sussex coast.
Since Government guidance changed to allow people to travel for unlimited exercise, there has been an increase in visitors to the area’s iconic white chalk cliffs.
People are being reminded of the serious risk the unstable cliffs pose to those getting too close to the edge or walking at the base of the cliffs, and beach walkers who get cut off by the tide.
In recent days there has been a cliff fall in Peacehaven, the rescue of a visitor stuck at the base of the cliff after being cut off from the tide in Seaford, and people posing for a selfie at the edge of the cliff in Eastbourne.
The safety messages are part of an ongoing joint campaign being promoted by East Sussex County Council, HM Coastguard, The National Trust, South Downs National Park Authority, Sussex Wildlife Trust, Seaford Town Council, Wealden District Council, Eastbourne Borough Council and Lewes District Council.
Councillor Claire Dowling, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for environment and transport, said: “Nearly 50,000 tonnes of cliff has crashed on to the beach below in recent years which is why it is so important that, while enjoying the beauty of the coast, people understand the dangers and take every possible precaution to stay safe.
“I would strongly urge people to stay well away from both the cliff edge and the base of the cliffs when walking on the beach. I would also encourage people to check tide times before setting out as it is possible to get cut off by the incoming tide or be forced to walk beneath the cliffs.”
Signs and posters highlighting the dangers are displayed along cliff-top walks, bus routes, at visitor car parks and tourist information centres and on community notice boards throughout the year.
Members of the public who see someone who is fallen or who is trapped at the base of the cliff are being told not to attempt to rescue them, but to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
Cllr Dowling added: “As well as staying safe around the cliffs, it’s also really important that people do not become complacent and ensure they are maintaining a two-metre distance from anyone not in their household.
“Social distancing is particularly difficult on the county’s beaches at high tide so if you do visit, it is best to avoid doing so at these times.”
The South Downs National Park Authority is asking those visiting the National Park to exercise the three R’s – restraint, responsibility and respect and, where people can, to keep the journey car-free by visiting on foot or bike. People should also avoid popular hotspots. With3,300km of rights of way, there is plenty of space to visit the National Park safely. If you arrive at a site that is already busy, please find an alternative.
For the latest advice on enjoying the National Park safely, please visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/national-park-authority/our-work/coronavirus-covid-19-update/