Call to make taxpayers near coast contribute to flood defence costs

Work has started on the repair to the sea defences at Snettisham beach. Picture: Matthew Usher

Work has started on the repair to the sea defences at Snettisham beach. Picture: Matthew Usher

Council taxpayers in villages across north-west Norfolk could be made to contribute towards the cost of protecting the coastline from flooding.

Work has started on the repair to the sea defences at Snettisham beach. Picture: Matthew Usher

Work has started on the repair to the sea defences at Snettisham beach. Picture: Matthew Usher

This year is the last when annual maintenance work from Wolferton Creek to South Hunstanton will be wholly funded by the government.

From next year the East Wash Coastal Management community interest company, the first of its kind in the country, will be in charge of the work.

The company was set up to raise funds from the community, caravan park owners and landowners, to help protect the coastline for future years.

But Michael McDonnell, who runs the company, believes people living further inland, who are not now contributing, should also help towards the £150,000 annual maintenance costs.

From left, Michael McDonnell, Julie Foley and Henry Bellingham. Picture: Matthew Usher

From left, Michael McDonnell, Julie Foley and Henry Bellingham. Picture: Matthew Usher

He wants to see a change to legislation which currently prevents councils from adding the costs to ratepayers' bills.

Mr McDonnell said: 'We already have funding for next year, but it's unfair that people in surrounding villages, near the coast, who also benefit from the maintenance work, don't contribute as well. The cost should be shared more evenly. The grass seabank further inland, which protects villages, would be under threat without this work being done.'

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Sir Henry Bellingham, North West Norfolk MP, praised the work being carried out by Mr McDonnell's company, and added: 'My fellow Norfolk MP, Elizabeth Truss, is very excited about this, and it could be an exemplar for other organisations around the country.

'It's all about putting local people in charge of the annual maintenance work, and sustaining these amazing assets.'

Work has started on the repair to the sea defences at Snettisham beach - Sir Henry Bellingham MP. Pi

Work has started on the repair to the sea defences at Snettisham beach - Sir Henry Bellingham MP. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The annual maintenance of the shingle embankment and beach takes about three weeks, and protects people and 2,935 properties from tidal flooding.

For the last three weeks dumpers have been moving sand and shingle from Snettisham Scalp, where it is naturally deposited by the sea over the winter, back to areas of the shingle ridge and beach that have lost material. It is then shaped by bulldozers to ensure the width, height and profile of the shingle ridge and beach is reinstated so that the ridge continues to protect the coastal community from flooding.

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