February 25, 2024

Coastal erosion in Normandy – France's cliffs collapse: tens of thousands of homes are threatened – News

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Tens of thousands of homes are at risk of erosion in the next few decades. In Creel-sur-Mer, many houses have already fallen victim to erosion.

Criel-sur-Mer, a village of 3,000 people in Normandy, is located on the stunning Alabaster Coast with its 100-metre-high chalk cliffs.

The problem for society is that it loses 30 centimeters of rock every year and has to expect larger rocks to fall at any time. The last time was a few months ago – the house has been uninhabitable since then.

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Close to the abyss: a house in the French municipality of Creel-sur-Mer.

SRF/Miriam Mathis

Corrosion is a major problem in society. Mayor Alain Trosin must decide which homes are at risk.

He is trying to prepare residents for the fact that the rocks will gradually fall victim to erosion – and with them the houses on the coast. “For a long time, people believed that they were stronger than nature. They poured the concrete and went there and intervened. But at some point the sea still comes. We can't do anything about it.”

The mayor plans to retreat inside. According to calculations, 32 houses in Creel-sur-Mer will have to be demolished in the next 50 years, and 70 houses within 100 years. Residents must be protected and therefore confiscated if their homes are too close to the abyss, says Trosin. .

Residents are aware of this phenomenon and are concerned: “Rock falls have become more common. I still know the houses on the other side of the street. “These houses no longer exist today, and neither does the street,” says Jean-Pierre Cellier, who owns an apartment a little farther from the edge.

Tens of thousands of homes affected by 2100

Nadine Berry lives with her husband only about 30 meters from the cliff. She is aware of the risks, but according to estimates, it will take about 50 years before erosion makes her house uninhabitable: “In 50 years we won't be there anymore anyway. I enjoy the wonderful view of the sea every day and I'm not afraid of the future.”

Coastal erosion is a problem throughout France. It is estimated that between 13,000 and 47,000 apartments will be affected by the end of the century. 208 communities have been entered into the state registry due to erosion problems.

A photo from a distance above the village of Creel-sur-Mer on the northern coast of France.

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Creel-sur-Mer is not alone: ​​208 municipalities in France suffer from coastal erosion.

SRF/Miriam Mathis

The speed at which erosion progresses depends on various factors, says Stephane Costa, a geomorphologist at the University of Caen in France. “The cliffs are hollowed out by the movement of the sea, and thus eroded. In addition, rock collapses occur when rainwater seeps into the ground and freezes, for example.

Leave more space for nature

There is also erosion on beaches, but it can alternate with phases of deposition: “Beaches are in constant motion. However, as sea levels rise, they are more likely to migrate inland or disappear.

The main problem, according to the specialist: In the past, people built near the coast and interfered a lot with nature.

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