As the weather improves and visitor numbers to the county’s coast increase, the council is reminding people of the risks the spectacular but unstable cliffs can pose, as well as the dangers to beach walkers who risk getting cut off by the tide.
The white cliffs are extremely unstable and can give way at any time with no warning. Each year thousands of tonnes of chalk fall from the cliffs, which stretch from the edge of Eastbourne, past Beachy Head, round to the Seven Sisters and Seaford Head.
Despite the dangers, visitors regularly stand too close to the edge of the cliffs, or walk or sit at the cliff base when on the beach.
In addition, people walking along the beaches are reminded to be aware of the tide times as it is possible get cut off by the incoming tide or be forced to walk too close to the base of the cliffs to avoid the rising sea water.
Incidents of walkers being stranded on the beach after being cut off by the tide happen more frequently than people realise. Visitors can check the tide times at www.tidetimes.org.uk.
Visitors taking a coastal walk should wear study footwear and clothing appropriate for the weather, and let people know where they are going and when they expect to return.
Cllr Claire Dowling, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport and environment, said: “Visitors come from far and wide to enjoy the spectacular East Sussex coastline but the beauty hides many dangers.
“The cliffs are extremely unstable and prone to regular chalk falls, and people should not underestimate the risks they are taking when they stand on top of the cliffs or walk along the cliff base.
“Visitors should also remember that it is very easy to be caught out by the incoming tide when walking on the beach and to check the tide times before they set out.
She added: “We want people to come to East Sussex and enjoy its beautiful coastline, but to do so safely and be aware of the dangers.”
The county council has teamed up with councils and organisations along the East Sussex coast to highlight the dangers, with this year’s safety campaign being promoted via social media using the hashtags #BeCliffAware and #BeTideAware.
The joint campaign is being promoted by HM Coastguard, The National Trust, South Downs National Park Authority, Sussex Wildlife Trust, East Sussex County Council, Seaford Town Council, Wealden District Council, Eastbourne Borough Council and Lewes District Council.
If visitors see anyone in danger or witness someone who has fallen, they are urged to call 999 immediately and ask for the Coastguard and not attempt to rescue them.