Thursday, 20 November 2014

Pilot Whales Vs M.O.D. Qinetic Shoeburyness Explosions

Picture Courtesy Stacey Belbin / BBC News
I was appalled today (Thursday 20th of November) to see (and hear) that the MOD range at Shoeburyness run by Qinetic was as usual detonating munitions, while a group of Pilot whales - creatures that are extremely sensitive and known to be beached because of unusual sound vibrations were being herded away from the shallow waters surrounding the area in the Blackwater Estuary, which borders Lee-Over-Sands.

Unsurprisingly while news helicopters were circling yesterday I noticed no such explosions happened - Coincidence? Or Qinetic hiding its activity from the mainstream media I wonder?

Aside from the environmental issues - I think questions need to be asked, and once again, we need to ask ministers why this still goes on in such a highly populated area near London in the 21st Century.

To read more about the whales, read the full BBC News item click here

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Colne Point's Sandspit Coastal Feature

For those of us who remember the dizzying excitement of learning about "longshore drift" and sand-spit formation from our school geography lessons, you might not realise unless you've walked as far west along the beach that Lee-Over-Sands and its geographical parent "Colne Point" features a great example of Sand-Spit formation.

This wonderful aerial photo is by Terry Joyce, looking from Point Clear, the sandpit can be seen curling round at the mouth of the Creek, opposite the Beach Cafe.

While checking on the current status of our sea defences, I happened to find this interesting DEFRA article written by V.J.May about this changing coastal formation of Colne Point that some residents may find of interest.

One section worried me:

"It has, however, another role as part of the coast protection of the Essex coast. The level of the saltmarsh is higher than the land that lies landwards of the site behind artificial sea defences. The continuing efficacy of the sea defences depends upon the continued presence of the beach and saltmarsh. Unfortunately, the construction of groynes at the northern end of the site has substantially reduced the supply of sediment to the beach, which is now seriously affected by erosion. As a result, not only the natural importance of the site, but also its coast protection role, are threatened. If the sediment supply to the beach is not maintained, there is likely to be a deterioration of the proximal end of the beach, partial destruction of the saltmarshes and the sea-wall would become exposed. In these circumstances, it may prove prudent in the interest of maintaining the scientific interest to allow artificial beach-feeding by materials comparable to those that fed the beach in the past. The volume would need to be controlled so that it simulated the historical sediment transport patterns in magnitude and frequency. The coast protection needs would be furthered by such action. Like many sites on the English coast, the marsh and beach at St Osyth now depend upon human intervention for their future maintenance. The landward boundary is an artificial one (the sea-wall), without which the saltmarsh would by now have migrated well inland."

Click here to read the document in full

To add a more human element to the history of our area, I found out a few years ago that relative of my partner remembers that during the 1960s, Beach road's holiday homes were actually on the beach, rather than behind the large creek as they are now.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Lee-Over-Sands Golf Club

I found an interesting page this evening while browsing through Google Images of Lee-Over-Sands which sheds some light on the history of the area before it was bought by Smiths Farms in the 1960s. 

I remember the land surrounding our houses in Lee-Over-Sands were sold originally as plots for the "Healthy Lee-Over-Sands" holiday park, which was intended to be developed after the War, I believe in the 1960s, which liquidated and forced a sale of the land.

But I was unaware of the previous usage of the land prior to our homes being built circa 1934.
It seems that the land was originally a golf-course in 1924, some 10 years before the houses were built on Wall Street.
The bungalow was originally the "clubhouse" this was knocked down a couple of years ago and was on the bend after the original Lee-Wick farmhouse which you can see behind the treeline, Notice the distinctive bend in the road.

As you can see from this sketched map, "Beach Road" and "Wall Street" did not exist then, although no source can be verified for this map, presumably its been redrawn in modern times for the website given the intensity of the colouration.

I heard stories that troops were billeted into the homes on Beach Road and Wall Street during that time, hence the pillbox and tank traps near the creek. 

Apparently the golf club vanished after the war - This makes some sense as I'm sure during wartime troops would have not encouraged golfers whacking projectiles from behind them! 

Perhaps more information about the wartime history of Lee-Over-Sands will surface eventually.

You can read the full golf orientated web-page I found here

Friday, 17 May 2013

Road Maintenance 2013

I just wanted to publicly thank the road's owner Guy Smith, Robbie Hales, and Jonathan Nott for all their hard work in maintaining the access road to our community over the last year.

Its now a pleasure approaching Lee-Over-Sands - the teeth gritting bumpy ride is now a thing of the past thanks to their combined initiatives, effort and equipment.

I'm sure all residents are now noticing that vehicle servicing costs, safety for older residents in terms of speed of emergency vehicle access and even our property values will certainly benefiting from their continued efforts in this enterprise.

Well done from this very happy resident!

House for sale....

The lovely house next door to Robbie is up for sale - For full details, see here...

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Shoeburyness Explosions

As regular readers will know, for all Lee-Over-Sands's idyllic atomosphere, its nature reserve on Colne Point and highest UK sunshine figures, it has something that spoils the perfection.

The Shoeburyness Explosions. 

Lee-Over-Sands is approx 10-12 miles from the QinetiQ MOD site - yet we feel the affects here like a minor earthquake. Residents further up the coast in Jaywick also suffer from it - vibrations are worse sometimes mainly due to atmospheric conditions.

So its now 2013 and still the explosions go on, shaking my home like an earthquake - When I bought my home nothing appeared in the "local searches" to indicate the problem - I only discovered it after moving in.

Every year I wonder if it will ever end.

Does complaining help? No.

Its pretty insulting when you receive letters implying you its "in your imagination" and it can't possibly happen as the noise levels are within tolerable limits. The noise isn't the issue, its the airborne shockwave that causes the problem, it rushes across the sea, across the seawall and makes my roof and entire house shake with the disturbance to the air (pressure differential).

I've tried writing to the local paper, the Clacton & Frinton Gazette, also my MP Douglas Carswell, QinetiQ themselves. Phoned the "complaints line" continually, and given up dozens of times because nothing is ever done to stop it - citing historical reasons ("its always gone on").

Our local MP even raised it in parliament - after enquiries from locals but was ignored as its "more important" to keep it going because it helps "our boys in Afghanistan" what a load of nonsense propaganda.

QinetiQ are a privately owned government contracted company that "disposes" of munitions and have their own deadlines - why would a company which is more bothered about commercial profit and whose sole purpose is to process munitions (blow them up) actually care about the peace and quiet of thousands of local people along the Kent & Essex coast?

With regard to the "possibility" of property damage caused by the explosions - The ministry of defence say its impossible - well you sit quietly in my home office when the explosions happen - you see what its like.

For me working from home, the biggest issue is not damage caused by the vibrations, its the loss of my "peace", absolutely nothing prepares you for it, no amount of email alerts stating "Explosions may be noticed" on a weekly email are helpful to calm my nerves on days when its bad. It makes you jump and is quite stressful to deal with - randomly having to face an unscheduled earthquake dozens of times a day on certain days.

There is nothing online about any organisations who are against it all - so I've set up a Facebook group to try and raise awareness and help to organise some kind of coordinated activism.

Click here and join / "like" the page if you are on Facebook.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

60 Years ago... The Great Flood hit Lee-Over-Sands

Thursday 31st of January is the 60th Anniversary of the 1953 Flood where 303 people died along the East Coast, and 37 people died during the night in Jaywick.

The flood water breached sea defences to the North West of Lee-Over-Sands where the sea-wall meets the high ground near Dumont Avenue in Point Clear - it then filled our area and washed across the low lying land from Lee-Over-Sands towards Jaywick on that fateful night.

This led me to ponder (as all Lee-Over-Sands residents do) about our relationship with the sea, our precarious historical reliance on the sea-wall (for those of us in "Wall Street") and how half of our community lies protected behind a sea wall that was bolstered after its failure in that fateful year.

You can see how Wall Street is protected during the spring tide!

Keith Simmonds, my girlfriend's brother in-law who grew up in the area remembers "Beach Road" in his childhood not having a tidal creek in front of the properties, the houses were actually "on the beach".

You can see evidence of this if you stand on the sea wall going towards Point Clear - between Lee-Over-Sands and the sewage works you can clearly see that even over the years the landscape has changed dramatically, why? Put simply - the land height is very different due to the sea defences blocking new sediment over decades.

The tidal action of the creek washing silt in twice daily is actually building a vast natural sea defence, and is forming a river delta - this may of course be why the environment agency is scaling back its protection and maintenance of our section.

The river delta is of course what is now known as our nature reserve, the formation of which has also created the second creek in front of the Beach Road properties.

You might think that this theory is rubbish, but don't forget that in Roman times, Colchester was actually not "inland" at all, and had a sea-faring port.

But how many years has this and height difference formed over?

We all know the sea wall height was increased after 1953, but how long was it here before that?

Although it doesn't go into precise details, there is mention of a sea wall in the area dating back to the 12th Century in the book - "The Great Tide", written to document the flooding and to explain what happened. In the extensive background information - there is record of local landowners petititoning the crown to be given aid and manpower to help protect farmland - although it doesn't go into details, with so many sea defences in the area it might not be our sea wall.

The difference in land height of course with the land behind the sea defences and the tidal creek nature reserve is now quite significant, approx 4 metres at least - which of course has either formed over hundreds of years or if Keith's story is considered, might even be less than a hundred years - Who knows - One day I'll investigate parish records or meet someone who remembers when the sea wall was first built.

I would love to see some older maps and compare more details over centuries if anyone has anything!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Road Condition Worsens

Andy Haynes asked me to post the following on his behalf...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

'Experimental' Wind Turbines suddenly appear off the coast from Lee-Over-Sands

Residents awoke at the weekend to suddenly be confronted by a massive offshore sea-crane which usually means only one thing - the installation of more wind turbines.

Tendring District Council's Planning department have certainly failed for residents here. Have we heard anything from the council about this, have we been given a chance to object? NO.

Personally as a "Green" policy supporter - I'm pretty keen on Windfarms, but surely this should have been installed near the other ones further up the coast - or further out to sea like the distant array beyond the Clacton-On-Sea ones... rather than spoiling the natural unspoilt area that is Colne Point?

One of my contacts in Government provided some information that nobody else in Local Government has - The turbine apparently is a 6 Megawatt model, almost twice the generation capability of normal models (3.5 Megawatts), so the question is, as an experimental one... will it remain there, how many more are going to appear - why is it so near us and not the rest of the Gunfleet sands array and how long will they stay there - and why do we bother to pay so much council tax each year if the planning system isn't working for the people who actually pay for local government?

As residents have now seen, nothing happened after this, the crane disappeared after a few days, and we have no idea what was going on, possibly this was due to the trunking and cabling work that appeared on Jaywick beach late in the summer, perhaps new cabling was being laid - Or perhaps foundations were being built and a turbine will appear at a later date?
Only "Dong Energy" (the company involved) and the government actually know what is going on off our shores. 

Friday, 27 April 2012

Single Bedroom Bungalow Property for sale £95,000 near the sea!

Seaside Bungalow for sale under £100,000

A great low-cost sea-side single bedroom bungalow for sale £95,000 in Wall Street, Lee-Over-Sands, St Osyth, Clacton-On-Sea, Essex.

The perfect chance for you to either retire to a beautiful rural location, or own a holiday home, or simply just to get out of the rat-race and town or city life and enjoy the quiet life in a beautiful remote community. This property is perfect for home-office workers, has broadband, and the real benefits... live in the sunniest place in the UK, and enjoy walking the dog in your lunch hour on the beach and work from home in a magical charming location.

A real chance for you to buy an affordable house outright and escape the trap of south-east house prices. Lets face it... How many homes can you buy for this price in a rural location in the UK and still be able to drive to the outskirts of London in an hour?

For details, please contact the Estate Agent, John Stiff by clicking here

Local Holiday Camping & Caravan Site

Want to stay locally with a tent, or caravan? There is a paddock field available in the lovely setting of Lee-Wick Farm, for a maximum of 5 caravans and available only for members of the Camping and Caravanning Club - for more details see the website for details or contact Mr Clarke 01255 823031

View Larger Map

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Holiday Home Rental - Beach Road

If anyone is interested in visiting Lee-Over-Sands for a holiday - you might want to read the brilliant reviews click here for one of the holiday homes available for rent on the seaward side of the sea-wall.

To find out more and to make a booking - click this link -


Its been a long time since I put together any local news for our community.
To summarise...

The Private Water Supply
In September last year, the water supply situation was finally resolved, with residents on the Wall Street side who wanted to be in control of their own bills rather than a communal bill agreed with Guy Smith of Smith Farms Ltd to pay for their own consumed water via the newly installed water meters he fitted at each property. This finally means we have a bona-fide private water supply, residents are now responsible for taking their own meter readings, calculating the cost and Veolia were happy to receive our individual cheques from each household towards Smith Farm's account which was set up after the new main was installed last year.

More Houses for sale
We have several houses for sale at the moment, all in Wall Street.

Traveller's site is no-more
One of our residents now owns the old traveller's site - so no more worries on that front.

Gated Community
A new "gate" has been installed between Wall Street & Beach Road to make Beach Road more private.

Back from the Dead
Smith Farms is currently renovating the "Old Cafe" which has stood derelict for decades and is converting it to rented holiday accommodation. Nice to see it being used again.

Access Road Repair 
The access road to Lee-Over-Sands - specifically the track from the sewage farm to Beach Road and Wall Street has been levelled finally by Guy's men, (you'll remember our repairs and pleas went unheard before click here) who hired a large digger for groundwork on the old Cafe - travelling down the road several times, they realised how annoying it can be and suggested to Guy that they work on it.

Some residents theorised that now the track has become an issue for the local farmer (presumably as it might put off potential customers / visitors to the 'Old Cafe' it is unsuprising to find that an offer was made to improve it unofficially (e.g. not in writing), by supplying manpower to improve it, as long as residents supplied Type 1 stone. Several residents (including myself) attempted to rally support, but after the usual doorstep inter-house attempts to rally interest, and meetings with the more experienced construction savvy residents happened, we realised that this would be too costly for residents given the amount of stone required. Not only that, that type 1 would only be suitable for a final "covering", and that the real problem (as ever) is due to the mud/clay/silt content which causes the "humps". 

By scraping and applying stone this would mean that the stone would have been embedded into the mud very rapidly and would not be worthwhile. Whereas the hardcore Andy Haynes and I used to fill dips in the road 2 years ago had remained sound and not moved - while the rest of the track had deteriorated. 

After much discussion, we decided that this approach would be a waste of money for residents and crushed hardcore needs to go down first, and the road re-shaped into a "camber" to prevent water pooling (which does the most long-term damage), before topping off with road planings which are more cost effective and allow proper drainage.

We also agreed that most residents would be happy to endorse and financially share costs with Smith Farms if a bigger project is done based on our proposals (similar in scale to the water supply update). Although most residents want the entrance point (near the sewage farm) to remain rough looking to discourage sunday drivers and "explorers". 

Since the temporary work was done "scraping mud" over the road, whilst it improved things for a month, as expected since recent rains, the usual pools of water have appeared, which in turn are made worse by vehicles - although its still miles better than it was - and you can get down the road in 5 minutes now, instead of 10!

Although this perhaps is what puts off people wanting to buy a house here, I know as a resident we've got used to the track, and my Citroen has survived 3 years of travelling up and down with no suspension or tyre damage. When the road is "passable" but rough looking it brings benefits of peace - and I applaud that, but I can't help think that the desirability and value of homes in Lee-Over-Sands is affected massively by this issue (and the reason why they aren't selling) is partly because of this - people with money have decent cars, most luxury cars have a low-profile tyres and they won't want to damage them. It doesn't bother me because I want to stay here... Every visitor and delivery driver says the same thing - "how do you cope with going down that road every day".

I'd like everyone to give this some thought and seriously consider supporting any future action by Smith Farms to improve the road.

Film about sailing around Lee-Over-Sands

Found this superb video made by Dylan Winter about the joys of sailing around our area in the world!

It even mentions the shingle dock remains, seen between Colne Point and Lee-Over-Sands from the sea-wall "Blakestone Hole", which is apparently the name of the inlet to the creek that flows between Lee-Over-Sands and the sea - I always thought this was called "Ray Creek".

To watch the video in HD, click the YouTube logo above

Monday, 19 September 2011

Pallid Harrier brings twitchers by the dozen

Sunday brought a massive amount of birdwatchers to our community, residents were shocked to find so many twitchers all parked up around the EA yard and sewage farm entrances - something special was obviously going on!

Reports came in that apparently this week a "Pallid Harrier" was spotted on the SSSI marshland (over the sea-wall).

To see more photos and exercise the twitcher within, click here

Apparently this rare bird has only ever been seen in Essex once.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Burnt out car on Beach Road

Residents this morning were treated to fire-engines and Police who were called out to a burning car left abandoned half way down the rough track past the sewage farm towards Lee-Over-Sands.

By the looks of things, the thieves had tried to turn the vehicle around, realising the road was going nowhere - and the car grounded as the wheels went off the side of the road, and it was then torched to hide evidence.

As we're in a remote location this presumably meant they had a long walk back to somewhere!

UPDATE: It must have been someone local after all - it was stolen from St Osyth... I wonder if anyone was seen walking back towards St Osyth or Point Clear that night...

Read the local newspaper report here:

Friday, 19 August 2011

Wall Street Water Supply Agreement Draft created for residents to view.

Frank Bollu, Andrew Haynes & Derek Foley met today to discuss and work on a draft of an agreement to present to Smith's Farms in regard to a solution to the water system impasse with Smith's Farms.

Residents will be receiving this document over the next couple of days by post (letterbox) and email. Please respond ASAP so we can resolve this and start reducing worry and stress levels all round!

Once all residents on the landward side connecting to the Wall Street supply are happy with the draft agreement we will formalise it, and present it to Guy Smith to start formal written negotiations.

Lee-Over-Sands - Wall Street Water Supply consultations in progress

Guy Smith met with me today in response to my suggestion in an email today that further to his recent offer letters the best way for all parties to agree and solve the current impasse.

This was prompted by concerns over a constantly changing set of circumstances and different verbal promises which seemed now to be in question by some residents and at odds with written facts in his letters.

Despite some odd leverage tactics on his part which were totally uneccessary given our dismay at the ongoing grief and stress we're all facing in relation to this, and our joint frustrations, I remained unmoved and proposed that the best way forward to give us and Guy a lot less stress is to draft a proper written agreement between us that will be mutually agreed.

Pleased to also report that during this informal meeting when the £1000 issue was raised again to which I gave my usual repetitious response, to which he also finally agreed to finish making good his work on my meter installation.

Once again I found myself for the THIRD time pointing out contrary to the Wall Street gossip rumours that I've always actively encouraged residents to contribute towards the upgrade if they are happy with the end result of the work and what they are getting in exchange for their £1000 and is a matter for individual households to decide upon. As all residents know my only issue was with him finishing the work on making good my meter pit and boundary as agreed if that's done then I'm happy to part with my hard earned, it seems fair to me.

Readers of the blog and residents know I've always said that in my opinon his updating of the pipework to our doors and fitting of meters to help with fair billing was always a good offer and extremely good value for money £1000 for a new modern pipe right to our doors, pressure tested and with a meter fitted is very affordable and reasonable if you compare it to Veolia's original cost projections per household. Lets hope now its not mentioned EVER again!

So after this and some light at the end of the tunnel being glimpsed in the form of Guy's letter of response to Frank's questions, Andy Haynes and I later started to put together a draft agreement for all resident's approval before we present it to Guy.

We'll be distributing our first draft to all landward L.O.S. residents for approval/comments asap.
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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The water supply - a vicious circle

A vicious circle exists for Mr Smith: Where to accept water payments for his private water supply would be to accept responsibility for its maintenance; and to reject responsibility for the water supply means providing an alternative.

Hence his strategy of demanding subscriber payments to the new supply pipe work, instead of previously billing recipients for the water they have received over the years.

The irony is, that had regular water bills been circulated, over the years they could have paid for future independently billed household Veolia supplies for Lee over sands residents, whilst also satisfying Mr Smith’s insatiable desire to disband their private Water supply.

I believe that in the language of Pooh, Piglet & Christopher Robin what has actually happened would be know as an “un-compromise”. What do you think?

Ben Smith's Birthday Party

Date 15th August 2011

Read on, for matters of little consequence!

It appears that Smiths Farms younger generation may be moving into the field (of Rave parties). To be precise the field next to Lee over Sands, but also not too far from the Smiths’ respective homes in nearby Wigboro Wick.

I was on the phone to Guy Smith at 4.30am yesterday morning, when the field rave nearby changed up a gear, boosting the sound to ‘raising the dead’ levels, & playing havoc with my sleep pattern. Guy must have been at his desk the speed he picked up the phone, and instantly referred me on to his brother Philip Smith, who unsurprisingly was not responding at 4.30am .

The party continued the following day and whilst propping up my eye lids with match sticks that afternoon, I decided to telephone Philip again to try and head off another potentially sleepless night. I was asking Philip for reassurance the sound system would not be turned up in the small hours when we were trying to sleep on a second night running. Philip was unwilling to give me this re-assurance, but it wasn’t long before he asked if we were going to sign a water agreement, although which water agreement he was not quite sure about. I had to put the phone down in the end when one of my matchsticks collapsed under the strain of my emulsified eyeballs. It was a relief when the party goers finally called it a day and not a second night. We understand Ben Smith is responsible for the rave, happy birthday Ben, live long & prosper!

The following day, whilst ‘walking my dog’ by the sea wall next to the party site, I realised the Hay stack wall we had all been a little perplexed by, was the best possible sound proofing between the party and the Smith brothers respective homes nestling out of view in the back ground behind it. Another resident took the view the Hay stack was actually designed to funnel sound directly at us. There was certainly nothing to prevent the sound coming our way.