The devastating floods of 1953 and 1978 are an inescapable part of the history of many of East Anglia’s coastal towns.

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And, today work was done in Wells to help ensure that the people there will never again have to endure such disasters.

A new £116,000 glass flood defence barrier, protecting 528 properties, was officially opened by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, chief executive of the Environment Agency (EA) Paul Leinster and county councillor for Wells, Dr Marie Strong.

Adjacent to Beach Road, the flood defence used to have large timber flood boards which were installed every October at the start of the flooding season to increase the defence height, but removed in April to allow views over the Quay.

The new, permanent, glass defence continues to protect people, homes and businesses whilst allowing uninterrupted views across the Quay throughout the year.

The glass wall took fewer than two weeks to install, has a self-cleaning coating, improves safety and needs minimal maintenance.

At approximately 90m it is believed to be the longest glass flood defence wall in the country.

The EA has no specific plans to install similar facilities in other parts of the region, but said it will consider this option in the future.

Dr Charles Beardall, area manager for the EA, said: “Installing the old boards was a time-consuming but extremely important task, often inconveniencing local people and businesses. As the boards needed replacing, our team designed this innovative solution which makes use of the significant improvements in structural glass technology.

“We have involved the very active local community in Wells and this is what they wanted.”

Mr Lamb said: “People in this area feel very strongly about protection from the sea. Just recently I spoke to a woman from Blakeney who experienced the floods of 1953. Water crashed through her front door and she sadly lost members of her family. Three hundred people from our region died in one night and that drives home how important this work the EA is doing really is.”

Dr Strong said: “Praise must go to EA staff both in providing answers to all the concerns and to assembling the glass panels – not an easy task with wind and rain.

“I thank the EA for benefiting Wells with not only a robust defence for years to come but one which will allow an attractive aspect of the harbour to be revealed throughout the year.”

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