MEMBERS of the public are being warned to avoid certain parts of the coast after a number of landslips left parts unstable.
Bosses at Durham County Council and Durham Heritage Coast Partnership, which manages the coast between Hartlepool and Sunderland, have issued an alert after recent wet weather severely affected access points to the beach in East Durham.
Green Stairs, the concrete steps that give access to the beach at Blackhall Rocks, had to be closed last week, partnership bosses are also assessing other areas including the steps at North Crimdon and from the nearby caravan site and there have been landslips at various points along the coastline, including Horden and north of Easington.
Green Stairs has been closed since last week on the advice of the council’s drainage and coastal defence team following a “significant cliff fall”.
Work to stabilise the cliff to ensure the structure’s long-term future could be as much as £1m for the already cash-strapped council, which is trying to save £190m by 2017.
A temporary barrier has been installed while council staff assess the steps.
Durham Heritage Coast officer Niall Benson said: “There was a landslip at Blackhall so the steps have moved and have been covered with spoil.
“There is a significant danger and the steps aren’t stable.
“Along the whole of the coast, because of really wet weather, we are getting significant falls, or landslips.
“The paths are perfectly safe along the clifftops, but we are urging people to please be aware that there have been landslips and for those on the beaches to be aware of the cliffs above and not to walk under the cliffs.”
Councillor Dennis Maddison, who represents Horden on Durham County Council, said: “I would like someone to go down to the clifftop path near Limekiln Gill and put some safety tape down.
“There have been landslips there and there are several spots where the cliffs are coming away just feet from the path, it looks a bit dangerous to me.
“I would urge people to be careful – if they go off the path the grass could collapse and they would go straight through.
“It could only be a matter of time before somebody gets hurt.”
Mr Benson said: “Currently the paths aren’t closed but we are looking at each of the accesses to the beach one by one.
“We want people to get onto the beach, but we want them to be safe.
“We are doing our best to replace or repair where we can.”