Fears over flooding have sparked an urgent plea for people to clear blocked ditches and drains across the county.

A specially formed task force has made the call to head off a repeat of flooding which forced people in Norfolk to evacuate their homes.

People across the county are being asked to make sure water can drain away from their property - and to act now to clear ditches and watercourses of branches and undergrowth.

In December 2020, heavy rain and flash flooding left many parts of Norfolk underwater, forcing people from their homes, with Long Stratton particularly badly hit.

Eastern Daily Press: Flooding in Long StrattonFlooding in Long Stratton (Image: Ella Wilkinson)

Members of the Norfolk Strategic Flooding Alliance, a partnership set up in the wake of that flooding, say keeping even the smallest watercourses clear of leaves, branches, rubble and litter will help protect homes and keep businesses safe.

Eastern Daily Press: Henry Cator, OBEHenry Cator, OBE (Image: Norfolk Community Foundation)

Henry Cator, OBE, chair of the alliance, said: "The first line of defence against flooding is to stop it before it happens: keeping all of our waterways clear, right down to the smallest ditch, has a huge impact on floodwater’s ability to drain away quickly.

"It may not seem like much, but keeping your own watercourses clear can protect your property and that of your neighbours, for just an afternoon’s effort with shears and a spade."

READ MORE: Road floods just a week after major drainage work

Under UK law, homeowners and landowners have a responsibility - sometimes referred to as Riparian responsibilities - to keep watercourses on their property clear, even if only a few feet of the ditch passes through.

The alliance said ditches and watercourses can lie beyond the hedges or fences landowners may believe mark the edge of their boundary, when, in fact, homeowners have responsibility for them too.

Eastern Daily Press: People in Norfolk are being urged to clear ditches and drains to prevent flooding this winterPeople in Norfolk are being urged to clear ditches and drains to prevent flooding this winter (Image: Ella Wilkinson)

It is much better for homeowners to stop easily avoidable cases of flooding by ensuring water can flow freely through a ditch or stream, than a blocked waterway leading to a flood in their home.

READ MORE: Warning as flood alerts issued for Norfolk coast

This autumn, everyone is being urged to check ditches and watercourses on or adjacent to their property, to confirm what their responsibilities are, and to do their part to keep ditches clear.

If people spot blocked or broken drains on Norfolk’s highways, they can report it via www.norfolk.gov.uk/flooding

In an emergency, people can report flooding via 0344 800 8013. If in immediate danger, people should call dial 999 straight away.