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Archbishop of Canterbury calls coastal erosion ‘unjust, unfair and wrong’ on Happisburgh visit

PUBLISHED: 12:37 08 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:12 08 November 2018

The Archbishop of Canterbury was welcomed by schoolchildren on his visit to Happisburgh. Picture: David Bale

The Archbishop of Canterbury was welcomed by schoolchildren on his visit to Happisburgh. Picture: David Bale

Archant

A fit and healthy Archbishop of Canterbury climbed the 133 steps to the top of St Mary’s church in Happisburgh to inspect the erosion of the north Norfolk coastline.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, right, flanked by the Revd Catherine Dobson, Happisburgh vicar, and the Bishop of Norwich. Picture: David BaleThe Archbishop of Canterbury, right, flanked by the Revd Catherine Dobson, Happisburgh vicar, and the Bishop of Norwich. Picture: David Bale

The Most Rev Justin Welby, accompanied by the Rt Rev Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich, began his three-day visit to Norfolk in Norwich yesterday, and arrived by minibus in north Norfolk this morning.

Having climbed the tower he spent several minutes surveying the scene.

While Happisburgh has become famous for the erosion of its coastline, Archbishop Justin said there was so much more to the village.

He said: “You get a real feel of community here and I love this coastline.”

From the tower he could see Bacton Gas Terminals, which he said he had never visited in all his years in the oil industry.

Walking down the steps, he added: “That was spectacular, but a bit worrying.”

He was praised for looking “remarkably fit and well”.

In leading prayers, he said: “It’s wonderful to be here, and so wonderful to be back in a Norfolk church. Having viewed the coastline from the tower, it’s a beautiful part of the world, stunning.”

To a packed church, he also prayed for the people and businesses along the coast threatened by coastal erosion, which he said was “unjust, unfair and wrong”.

He said: “We protest against those that do not care for the environment, just make money and look after their own interests. And we seek a change in government opinion and a determination to protect communities and look after people.

“This is a place not simply defined by coastal erosion, but by the people who live here, and those who will live here.”

Earlier, children from Happisburgh school welcomed him by singing ‘He’s got the whole world in His hands’.

Head of school Kate Mejri said: “We’ve got all 93 children here. They made a banner welcoming the archbishop, and we talked about his importance at assembly. The children presented him with a card and clapped as he left.”

Archbishop Justin signed the church’s visitors’ book and wrote in it: “Another beautiful church where Christ is our hope.”

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