The number of flooding incidents in Norfolk has doubled in the space of a year after recent storms left many areas of the county under water. 

So far in 2023, Norfolk County Council's flood and water team has received more than 470 reports of flooding across the county, but further reports are still coming in following heavy rainfall during the past two months.

By comparison, there were only 242 flood reports during the whole of last year, while the figure for 2023 is the third highest in seven years, only eclipsed by 848 in 2016/17 and 766 in 2020/21.

Eastern Daily Press: Barry Herber, 72, was among those whose Attleborough home was flooded due to Storm BabetBarry Herber, 72, was among those whose Attleborough home was flooded due to Storm Babet (Image: Newsquest)

A hundred of this year's reports met the threshold for a formal flood investigation.

Those probes are triggered when certain criteria, such as one or more properties being flooded, people being seriously hurt, or critical infrastructure such as schools, hospitals or priority roads is affected.

Eastern Daily Press: The A47 had to be shut after floodingThe A47 had to be shut after flooding (Image: National Highways)

Recent storms caused parts of the A47 and A11 to be shut due to flooding, while dozens of homes in Attleborough were swamped by a deluge of flood water following Storm Babet's torrential rain.

Eastern Daily Press: Flooding at Potter HeighamFlooding at Potter Heigham (Image: James Weeds)

Areas such as Potter Heigham, Wroxham, Hoveton, Sheringham and Swaffham were also badly affected by flooding.

County councillors will meet next week to discuss the impact of flooding - and the coastal erosion which has led to people in villages such as Hemsby losing their homes - at a meeting of the cross-party scrutiny committee on Wednesday.

Eastern Daily Press: Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group at Norfolk County CouncilSteve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group at Norfolk County Council (Image: Archant)

Steve Morphew, Labour group leader and chairman of the scrutiny committee, said: "It couldn’t be more timely and relevant as this storm season highlights the increasing impact of extreme weather events on Norfolk.

"I’m sure we will hear the frustration shared by councillors and the public about the lack of investment and the difficulty in pinning down where responsibility for action belongs.

"Scrutiny committee can shine a light on the problems and try to speed up finding solutions.

"We won’t be able to talk about every flooding and coastal erosion problem but we know how important every one of them is to the people and businesses affected.

"If anyone wants to write to me before our meeting, I will make sure their views are on the record."

The Norfolk Strategic Flood Alliance, a group set up by Norfolk County Council in the wake of the Christmas 2020 floods, heard last year that measures needed to protect the most vulnerable areas of the county would cost £80m.

Eastern Daily Press: General Lord DannattGeneral Lord Dannatt (Image: Archant © 2014)

The former chair of the group, General Lord Dannatt, called on local MPs to lobby the government to provide enforcement powers so landowners who refuse to keep waterways clear can be fined. 

But North Norfolk Conservative MP Duncan Baker recently criticised the county council, saying County Hall was not doing enough to support people affected by flooding.

Eastern Daily Press: North Norfolk MP Duncan BakerNorth Norfolk MP Duncan Baker (Image: Archant)

The discussion comes as independent spending watchdog the National Audit Office revealed the Environment Agency has cut its forecast for the number of extra properties it will be able to better protect from flooding by 40pc, since plans were unveiled in 2020.

The government had committed to protecting 336,000 more properties as part of a six-year flood and coastal erosion programme from 2021 to 2027.

But in a 56-page report published on Wednesday, the public spending watchdog said EA reduced its forecast to 200,000 properties, identifying inflation as a major reason.

Eastern Daily Press: Adrian Ramsay, the Green Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for the Waveney ValleyAdrian Ramsay, the Green Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for the Waveney Valley (Image: Green Party)

Adrian Ramsay, co-leader of the Green Party and prospective parliamentary candidate for the newly created Waveney Valley constituency, which includes parts of Norfolk and Suffolk, called for a change in planning rules.

He said building on flood plains should be banned and for grants to prioritise flood protection for people in vulnerable areas.

He said: "Ultimately, we need to deal with the root of the problem, which is to tackle the emissions responsible for heating our planet."

A Defra spokesman said: "As has already been set out in the Environment Agency’s annual report, inflationary pressures and delays brought about by the pandemic mean we must look again at the targets set out in our £5.2bn programme.

"We will consider the National Audit Office's recommendations as we continue to deliver our record investment to protect hundreds of thousands of homes from floods."