Page last updated at 03:05 GMT, Friday, 26 December 2008

Beach fears over coastal erosion

Alison Harper shows the dramatic effect of coastal erosion

Nearly 200 miles of south-west England's coastline is crumbling into the sea but little can be done, the National Trust has warned.

Studland Beach in Dorset has been one area hit hard by coastal erosion with beach huts moved back from the sea three times in the last 25 years.

Despite the disappearing shoreline, the National Trust is continuing its policy of letting nature take its course.

But some visitors say urgent action should be taken now.

You come for your summer holidays... once that sandy beach is no longer there you don't want to be sat in the car park
Emma Wright, National Trust

The National Trust has experimented with gabions, metal grilles filled with rocks, which are supposed to soak up the force of the waves.

However, they were washed away.

Emma Wright, from the trust, said: "At Studland the National Trust is all about nature conservation.

"Why people come here is because it is so wonderfully natural and we have some amazing species of animals, reptiles and birds here.

"So we don't want to put lots of structures in place which are going to detract from the nature of the area.

"It is not an absolute science as to what is going to happen but we are working with as many predictions as we've got to try and do the best and try to inform everyone to what we think is going to happen."

But she admitted the beach huts could ill afford to be moved back again.

"You come for your summer holidays, you want to be on a sandy beach, once that sandy beach is no longer there you don't want to be sat in the car park."

Another option that could be looked at would be installing groynes along the beach.

They are designed to slow down longshore drift and build-up the beach, but often need replacing every 15 to 20 years.

Clive Arnold, who has visited the beach with his family, said: "I think some drastic action needs to be taken pretty soon.

"At least if you put groynes in there would be something left for the people to enjoy".

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