Some North Norfolk coast flood defences may not be reinstated following surge

Brancaster golf course under water after last nights high tide. Picture: Mark Roche. Brancaster golf course under water after last nights high tide. Picture: Mark Roche.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
5:50 PM

Some Norfolk and Suffolk sea defences may not be reinstated following the tidal surge which hit Norfolk last month.

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Analysis

This is potentially a very emotive issue for a much-loved part of Norfolk.

While details are still vague as to where exactly could be affected, such a move would have a massive impact on the natural environment at these three areas.

Wildlife that relies on freshwater to thrive would have to go somewhere else, replaced by new plants, birds and animals.

Some will be scared as to the impact on an area that is not only outstandingly beautiful, but is also a big draw for tourism.

Others will see it as a simple example of evolution, the likes of which has been happening for thousands of years.

Environment Agency boss Paul Leinster told MPs this afternoon that his agency is questioning whether or not it will allow the water that has broken through to remain.

Brancaster, Blakeney and Salthouse are all areas that the agency is considering allowing the salt water to create new habitats. During a select committee session on the recent storms which have caused widespread flooding the EA chief executive was questioned on the speed of repairs to the breached barriers.

But he said: “For some of the situation, the flood defences are still under water. We physically can’t get to them to inspect them. In other places we will have discussions with Natural England and others as to whether we are going to reinstate those flood defences, or whether we will allow the water that has now broken through to remain. So you can imagine some of the places up on the North Norfolk Coast or some of the places in Suffolk where some defences have broken through. They were protecting particular types of habitat. The questions has to be do we reinstate those defences and then allow fresh water habitat to re-establish, or allow inter-tidal habitat to establish.”

But he added: “The bit I would like to assure is properly and people are being protected and we have carried out all of the emergency works we need to and put in temporary works we to need to protect people and property.”

Mark Johnson, coastal manager for the Environment Agency said: “Last month’s combination of strong winds, large waves and high tides led to a record tidal surge along many parts of the coast.

“This had a large impact on areas along the North Norfolk coast that needs thorough evaluation before any decisions are made.

“We have already employed Halcrow as consultants to review the situation in Brancaster, Blakeney and Salthouse.

“We are expecting their report next month. The report and discussions with our partners and those affected will help us to consider our options for the North Norfolk coast.”

You can watch the committee here

8 comments

  • A decision to flood these areas was taken at Kings Lynn Council by councillors in a secret meeting around 20089. They had to sign to say they would not reveal what went on. In other words this is old news kept out of the public domain for fear of losing votes in the wards affected. The councillors knew about it years ago and said nothing. people in those areas will be left to flood out.

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    Inactive account

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • It is economically prudent to consider whether or not the cost of defending marshland is sensible when there is such a high probability of renewed flooding occurring again in the years to come. However, it is also right to consider the effects of adopting such a policy on both property and infrastructure and the cost to both individuals and local authorities who will have to bare the cost of dealing with such a decision. A good example would be the number of houses and property in both Salthouse and Cley which would be potentially at risk if such a policy were adopted as well as the risk of the permanent closure of the A149 along this stretch of coast. Given the area is such a Mecca for birdwatchers and tourists the damage to the local economy should also be factored into the equation before any rash decisions are made.

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    Bad Form

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • Just counting down the hours till Norman Lamb MP says it has nothing to do with him. Just like he'll say he didn't vote for ambulance cuts, he'll say he didn't vote for Environment Agency cuts. The voting record says different.

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • Well said Uranus, the problems over the lack of coastal protection has been known for years. I'm sure that the EDP will take up the slack of Government and insurance companies.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • Andy- Regrettably, I suspect you are correct in your assumption that the Environment Agency's use of Halcrow to determine whether or not it is sensible to replace North Norfolk's damaged sea defences is simply a way of avoiding legitimate protest when Halcrow sides with the Environment Agency's decision. The use of just one consultancy firm leads one to the suspicion that that's what's going to ultimately happen, or am I too much of a cynic?

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    Bad Form

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

  • Quite right Bad Form. This is part of the agenda put forward by the Environment Agency that included allowing the sea to encroach as far as Potter Heigham in due course. Please also keep in mind the size of the cuts that have taken place under this government. Labour were said to be spending £800m a year but this has been cut back to £600m and that is before inflation has been taken into account. Employing consultants is a smoke screen.

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    andy

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • Andy- Regrettably, I suspect you are correct in your assumption that the Environment Agency's use of Halcrow to determine whether or not it is sensible to replace North Norfolk's damaged sea defences is simply a way of avoiding legitimate protest when Halcrow sides with the Environment Agency's decision. The use of just one consultancy firm leads one to the suspicion that that's what's going to ultimately happen, or am I too much of a cynic?

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    Bad Form

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

  • Totally dismayed by the statement from the The Environment Agency. The fact that they have mentioned already, they may not reinstate the sea defences along the North Norfolk Coast around Salthouse (no mention of Cley) tells you the way they are thinking. As has been mentioned by others, what will happen to the communities along this stretch of the coast? will they abandon the A149? and what about the SSSI status of the reserves, Cley and Salthouse in particular? The cost in the long run would be enormous, to the infrastructure, the people, the marshes and to the area which is a major attraction for migratory birds which rely on the freshwater marshes to feed and rest on their way North or South or indeed as a winter habitat. I sincerely hope that that such a move is vigorously opposed, by the local people, NWT, RSPB, National Trust and others who are the custodians of this wonderful area which is such an important mecca for visitors from all across the UK, and around the world.

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    Tony410

    Friday, January 24, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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