'No time to waste' - Urgent plea to fix flooding in visitor hotspot
- Credit: Brittany Woodman
Ongoing flooding in one of Norfolk’s most popular tourist areas needs to be sorted out urgently before the visitor season begins, a business owner has said.
Part of the area encompassing Brancaster, North and South Creake and five ‘Burnham’ villages including Burnham Market have faced flooding since December.
In some areas, people have been unable to flush their ground floor toilets, raw sewage has been bubbling up from manholes and Anglian Water has had to get special permits from the Environment Agency to pump directly into the River Burn.
Anglian Water said it had been working “around the clock” since December 23 to assist communities across the region, following unprecedented rainfall.
But Jason Borthwick, owner of Deepdale Farm at Burnham Deepdale, said: “Sadly if there isn’t a full-blown fix before April 12 all of the major repairs and issues are going to need to be sorted while the place is full.
"This could require roads to be closed and have implications for businesses. Rather than putting their heads in the sand they need to be getting on with it now - there’s no time to waste.”
A spokesman for Anglian Water said: “There is no specific problem with the sewer network in the Burnham, Brancaster and Creakes area. The issues seen over the last three months have been as a result of the sheer volume of groundwater, surface water and river flooding inundating the network.
"We have deployed exceptional numbers of tankers across the region with up to 120 working around the clock, twice our usual fleet, to help alleviate the groundwater plus direct pumping to help keep customers’ facilities working.”
Mr Borthwick said he felt the problem was not just a one-off but was more systemic, and feared it could be blamed on a lack of investment and maintenance of the sewerage system, which he said was built in the 1960s.
He added: “Right now the north Norfolk coast is quiet. Yet even then it can’t cope with the contents of the sewer.”
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Anglian Water said they had invested around £2 million in the sewer network in recent years, including £260,000 to help protect properties in Burnham Thorpe.
Co-operation is needed
Andrew Jamieson, who represents North Coast division on Norfolk County Council, which is the ‘lead local flood authority’, said the fragmentation of responsibility was part of what had led to the current problems.
He said: “It has been made much more difficult than it needs to be by the salami slicing of different roles - there are 36 entities responsible in some way for flooding in Norfolk so trying to get a speedy response has been time consuming.”
Mr Jamison said the recent formation of a new ‘strategic flooding alliance’ taskforce led by Lord Dannatt would hopefully speed up response times.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “All water companies have strict conditions around discharges specified through their permits. It is the responsibility of water companies to comply with the law and to avoid pollution.”