Landowners approached to take on flood defences - or they’ll be axed
- Credit: Archant
Local authorities, landowners and farmers are being approached to take on flood defences that the Environment Agency no longer believes are value for money – including in King's Lynn.
Chief executive Paul Leinster revealed to MPs that the agency was in talks with local communities across the country, and had already agreed sites in East Anglia.
The Environment Agency has handed over responsibility for the maintenance of the rivers Babingley, Ingol and Heacham to the King's Lynn Internal Drainage Board earlier, after a consultation where it was formally reclassified from 'main river' to an 'ordinary watercourse'.
At the time the move was welcomed by Phil Camamile, chief executive for the Water Management Alliance, who said they would welcome other opportunities to take on responsibilty.
He said: 'We are delighted that the three rivers have finally come home. We will be working with the Norfolk Rivers Trust and other partners to develop a maintenance programme for them, which we are very optimistic about.'
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In a Public Accounts Committee session this week, Mr Leinster said: 'We do carry out that economic analysis. We have a protocol called the maintenance protocol.
'For a number of defences that we no longer believe it is economic to maintain, we have dialogue with local partners and others who might be in a position to take them on. We have done that in a number of areas and have identified something like 60 further areas.
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'On probably fewer than 10 we have already come to an agreement with local authorities, landowners and farmers to take on the maintenance of those assets.
'We are currently in discussions on where we might hand over in about 60 other locations.'
In Suffolk, the Environment Agency has also handed over sites on the River Deben, River Blyth and River Alde.
Mr Leinster warned that if local landowners did not want to take on the project, then the flood defence would 'cease to exists'.
The Environment Agency boss appeared in front of the select committee after the government's spending watchdog, the National Audit Office found the risk of flooding was rising as a result of government funding cuts.
It warned cuts were a false economy and half of the nation's flood defences had been left with 'minimal' maintenance.
Do you think the government spends enough on flood defences? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email