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Businesses rally behind Great Yarmouth flood defences

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 February 2015

Mike Futter of Ventureforth during construction of the initial phase of defences

Mike Futter of Ventureforth during construction of the initial phase of defences

Archant

Businesses are coming together to drive forward a multi-million-pound tidal defences scheme in Great Yarmouth, which will support economic growth in the years ahead.

The Tidal Defences Business Partnership, thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, is a new business group working with the public sector to raise awareness and support for the scheme as one which underpins the future business opportunities in the borough.

Businesses already signed up to the partnership, which is being formally launched on the riverside today, cover every sector from offshore firms Gardline and Asco to port company EastPort UK and leading town centre store Palmers.

Also included are Alicat Workboats, Pasta Foods, Camplings Linen, architectural practice Paul Robinson Partnership, property company Ventureforth, engineering consultants Technicus and Bycroft estate agents.

The tidal defences along the River Yare are vital to businesses in Yarmouth and the wider economy, protecting property, important assets and key infrastructure upon which businesses and residents rely. The defences held during the tidal surge in December 2013 – but they are deteriorating and a failure of any section could result in flooding over a wide area.

The Environment Agency has a programme to renew the structures in five-year phases and the first fully funded stage, costing £28m, is well under way.

However, Government funding rules for flood defence infrastructure mean that a greater proportion of the investment in future phases must come from partnership funds with businesses playing a major role.

The £76m second phase is to replace 2,655 metres of defences over five years, starting in 2016. To ensure work can go ahead in time, the private sector, along with Yarmouth Borough Council, the Environment Agency and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, are working together to secure an estimated £30m from partnership sources in order to gain the remainder through Government grant aid.

Chris Starkie, managing director of New Anglia LEP said: “This is an excellent example of the business community working hand in hand with the public sector for the greater common good, for the protection of homes, livelihoods and key infrastructure in the town.

“Our role will be to work with all those involved to identify alternative funding sources from both private and public sector as well as potential European funding.”

Daniel Bycroft, the partnership’s chairman, said: “All businesses are welcome to get involved and play a part in ensuring these vital defences are in place when needed in the future.

“It is thought to be the first time nationally that businesses have taken such a leading role in securing partnership funding, and initial meetings have been very positive, which shows the huge weight of confidence in Yarmouth’s business growth potential.”

Group co-ordinator Bernard Harris, the borough council’s coastal manager, said: “We are exploring a range of possible funding sources, including EU money, but it will be important for us to show a high degree of business involvement.”

Businesses interested in joining the Tidal Defences Business Partnership should contact Mr Harris on 01493-846512 or email bh@great-yarmouth.gov.uk

Do you have a story of businesses successfully working together? Email stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk

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