Cost of protecting Norfolk coast and the Broads from flooding could hit £500m

Emergency services attending the scene of major flooding around the Camden Road area of Great Yarmou

Emergency services attending the scene of major flooding around the Camden Road area of Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

The cost of protecting Norfolk's coastal communities from flooding could reach up to £500m, a new report has today revealed.

It found that investment would be needed in Great Yarmouth, the Broads, Winterton and Eccles over the next 50 years.

And with changes to central government funding, it said at least £200m will have to be found elsewhere to maintain and replace current defences.

The report, commissioned by the Broads Climate Partnership, was put together to explore the future of the flood and coastal risk management schemes in the eastern half of the county.

It identified several key issues that will need to be addressed in the coming years to protect communities along the coast, including:

Great Yarmouth tidal walls –Investment is required to fix the 'poor and deteriorating' state of the quay walls.

The Broads – There is no plan in place to determine what will follow on from the current flood defence contract.

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Eccles to Winterton – The policy to maintain the defences along the stretch is conditional from 2055 onwards.

The report said there were around 6,500 homes within the flood risk area, which would benefit from defences.

And while the cost of protecting such areas could reach £500m in the future, the overall value of the land and property was in excess of £1.7bn.

However, it noted central government grant aid would not cover the entire bill, and a further £200m would have to be secured from partner organisations.

At present, there are three separate flood defence systems along each of the areas identified.

But the report concluded there was a 'clear need' for a single strategic overview in regard to flood management for the entire area.

Broads stakeholders, including parish and district councils, are now being asked for their views on the report.

John Packman, chief executive of the Broads Authority, said: 'Clearly a policy of maintaining the separate flood risk management work in the three areas identified would involve significant expense.

'Therefore the Broads Climate Partnership needs to carefully consider every option. An update and review of the three strategies is long overdue and any approach to the areas needs to be joined up given their interconnectedness.'

As part of a meeting on November 3, stakeholders will also discuss where funding could be sourced to help maintain existing defences in the future.

It comes three years after one of the worst tidal surges in 60 years hit parts of the Norfolk coast, causing widespread damage.

Carl Smith, chairman of Great Yarmouth Borough Council's environment committee, said the ongoing costs would be justified.

'It is very important for Great Yarmouth because flooding affects businesses and homes, and one side of us is by the sea,' he said.

Meanwhile, Eric Lund, chairman of Winterton Parish Council, said defences in the village were maintained by a local business.

He said: 'It is quite a significant village now with 1,700 residents and if it wasn't for private enterprise, we would have had a bigger problem than we have. The lady who owns the café and car park on Beach Road spends around £3,000 each year shoring up the area.'

The Broads Climate Partnership, which commissioned the report, is made up of the Broads Authority, Environment Agency, Natural England, various local councils and the UEA.

Have you been affected by flooding? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684.