Fermain landslip after wet weather

HEAVY rain has been named as the cause of a recent landslip at Fermain Bay.

A landslide at Fermain Bay is now eroding the cliff face close to the public path above. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29108372)
A landslide at Fermain Bay is now eroding the cliff face close to the public path above. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29108372)

The area, which has now been reviewed by States Property Services engineers, has had safety precautions put in place to protect walkers.

Fencing has been placed where the cliff path above the bay is set back from the cliff edge, alongside the area where material has slipped, to keep people back from the soft edge caused by the rain.

A spokesperson for Agriculture, Countryside & Land Management Service explained what they thought had occurred.

‘It is likely that the fall of soil and rubble was caused by water draining through the soft cliff after recent wet weather,’ they said.

‘Rainfall this year up to 11 January was 81.2mm, according to meteorologists at Guernsey Airport, about double what would usually be expected for this period.

‘This is on top of what was a very wet end to 2020, with 487mm recorded from October to December, approximately 150mm above the average for that quarter.’

October was the wettest month of the year followed by December.

In recent years there have been several landslides due to rain, including part of the cliff path up to the Cow’s Horn last March.

While reopening of the borders is awaited to fix them in what has been acknowledged as an estimated ‘six-figure’ repair sum, the steps remain closed and walkers who usually use them are asked to take the cliff path between Clarence Battery, Belvedere and Le Val des Terres.

Soft cliffs of loose clays and small stones can also be found at Moulin Huet, Petit Bot and Portelet, and cautions that they could also collapse without warning, particularly after periods of heavy rain, are issued each year.

These soft cliffs may also contain large boulders, which are unseen until a fall occurs.

ACLMS principal environment services officer Andy McCutcheon urged islanders walking in the area to be cautious and let them know if there was any more incidences of deterioration or slippages elsewhere.

‘As with all footpaths in close proximity to steep sloping sites, caution in their use is advised owing to the unpredictable nature of the steep slopes, particularly during and after periods of heavy rainfall,’ he said.

‘A landslip like this is not unusual after such a prolonged period of wet weather and the area continues to be monitored regularly by ACLMS and States engineers.’

  • To contact ACLMS about any more incidences of deterioration or slippages, email aclms@gov.gg.

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