9 February 2011

Coastal erosion and residential property

Posted by Dave Petley

The Daily Mail has an interesting article (surely the first time I have used that phrase) on a cottage in South Dawlish in Devon, UK that is threatened by coastal erosion.  According to the article, the house changed hands 18 months ago for £1.75 million, since when it has suffered two cliff collapse events, the most recent of which has left the back of the (let’s face it, spectacular) property just 1 m from the cliff edge:

The potential threat to the house is best shown by this image, taken before the most recent collapse:

The newspaper report states that

Planners approved the development in 2005 with a number of conditions including a full geotechnical report to ensure the future stability of the cliff which would not be affected by the property’s construction.  A Teignbridge Council spokesman said all conditions were met by the original applicant to allow the house to be built.”

Although I cannot speak for the specifics of this case in any way, in general insurance does not cover houses lost to coastal erosion or landslides in the UK.  I suspect that all parties involved have interesting times ahead.