Erosion of the coastline in northwestern Denmark has forced the authorities to arrange for shifting the more than a century old Rubjerg Knude lighthouse. It will be taken inland. When it was commissioned in 1900 it was at a distance of 656 feet from the North Sea, today that has reduced to hardly 20 feet. Efforts are on to save this iconic structure. It was declared unserviceable in 1968 but continues to remain a major landmark because it is now a museum, and a Travel destination frequented by tourists.

It sees more than 250,000 visitors every year. The structure is an enormous one weighing nearly 1,000 tons and it is located on a cliff above sea level. That in itself is an indication of the magnitude of the task ahead for the team entrusted with the work.

Daily Mail UK quotes local mayor Arne Boelt saying he is worried that “many things can go wrong” during the process of moving the lighthouse. He is frank when he says that the alternative to relocation would be to dismantle it.

That would rob it of its value to tourism. On a rough estimate, the whole process would take approximately 10 hours if the team can maintain a speed of 26 feet per hour.

It is an environmental issue

Erosion of the beach is an issue related to the Environment because it can be a result of rising sea levels in conjunction with an irregular pattern of sea waves, ocean currents, and climatic disturbances.

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Such situations could have links to global warming and can gradually change the topography of a region as is evident in this case. There are already fears of human settlements near seashores falling victims to sea-level rise.

Environment Minister Lea Wermelin has described the white, square lighthouse “a national treasure” and justified the expenses that will be required for the relocation.

Daily Mail UK says the tentative cost could be around $747,000 and the town of Hjoerring has agreed to contribute towards the shifting. The lighthouse has not been in operation since 1968 and it took the shape of a museum. The horror of the shifting sands can be understood from the fact that coastal erosion ultimately swallowed two adjacent buildings.

There was an earlier casualty

According to NBC News, the Rubjerg Knude lighthouse has been mounted on wheels and is on its way to a new location.

This exercise was necessary to save the unique structure, which was in danger from erosion of the coastline. In 2008, there was an earlier casualty. It was a nearby church, which was in danger of falling into the sea. The Romanesque Maarup Church dates back to 1250, was built on a cliff and had to be dismantled. The location was considered safe when it was built but by 2008, the situation was not the same and it was in danger of disappearing into the North Sea.

Some scenes of the church appeared in the movie "Babette's Feast." It was the first Danish film to win the 1987 Oscar for best foreign-language film.

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