March 9 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Plans to refurbish the floodgates in King’s Lynn have been given the go-ahead after more cash was added to the pot following the recent floods.
The £1m project is one of 42 flood schemes which the Environment Agency confirmed would happen next year, with work in the west Norfolk town set to start in April.
The plan will see 67 floodgates and dam boards refurbished in a move the body says will protect 447 properties.
Julie Foley, area manager for the Environment Agency, announced the work on replacing the structures would take place in mid-January, but the high-level confirmation that there was money available for the project is a relief as flooding clear-up and repair costs grow as storms continue to batter the West Country.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles, who updated the House of Commons after environment secretary Owen Paterson was forced to drop out for urgent eye surgery, announced an extra £130m had been made available by the government to help secure and maintain flood defences before next winter hits.
During the Commons debate Henry Bellingham called on Mr Pickles to look at Beach Road, Brancaster where defences have not been repaired.
Mr Pickles said: “I certainly will. We tried to use that period to get a lot of emergency work done, but I suspect it might not have been possible or safe to have looked at those defences then.
“I will remind the Environment Agency, which I am sure will be round as soon as possible.”
Prospect, the union representing specialists in the Environment Agency, said the announcement by Mr Pickles was a rehash of a statement made in 2013.
Deputy general secretary Leslie Manasseh said: “There is no additional money for flood defences, works programmes will be cut and 1,500 staff will still be made redundant by October 2014.
“The plan to protect 465,000 homes by the end of the decade was reported last November. Meanwhile the people who are working day and night to prevent flooding – our members in the Environment Agency – will see their revenue budgets cut from £275m in 2010 to £226m in 2014-15.
“Who will maintain these defences if the agency’s revenue budgets are cut? Flood prevention through a well-resourced EA is better than a one-off temporary solution that cannot be adequately maintained.”
Floods minister Dan Rogerson said: “Our flood defences have been seriously tested over the past two months which is why we are investing in repairs to ensure these crucial defences can withstand future storms.”
What do you think the Environment Agency should do about flood defences in this region? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk