Minister announces 'showcase' flood plan

Minister Ian Pearson yesterday announced that one of the government's 15 pilot flood projects would take place in Norfolk - but refused to commit to funding any physical work.

Minister Ian Pearson yesterday announced that one of the government's 15 pilot flood projects would take place in Norfolk - but refused to commit to funding any physical work.

An investigation will be conducted into flooding in Poringland and the Framinghams, south of Norwich, caused by piecemeal development of the area's drains.

With the villages sitting on a hill made up of an impenetrable clay crust, each batch of heavy rainfall can result in overflowing drains - and as the climate changes the flooding is set to get worse.

With the area's drainage being the responsibility of a number of organisations, including householders, South Norfolk Council, the Environment Agency, Highways authority and Anglian Water, no one organisation has taken responsibility for the system.

Now the government pilot will bring together all groups to determine where responsibilities for the drainage lie - and work towards producing a "showcase" drainage model that can be used throughout the country.

The pilot was welcomed yesterday by local people - but there was disappointment that the government only promised to draw up a model for a drainage system rather than putting up funding to turn that into a reality.

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In the small print of the details it said the Poringland project would "look at long-term holistic solutions… with the view to creating a "showcase drainage development that will provide inspiration for other developments".

A spokesman for Defra said that £1.7m would be spent on the 15 projects around Britain but would not go into specifics on funding for each.

David Gudgeon, district councillor for Poringland, said: "This could not have come at a more important moment for this community. Every time we get heavy rain, people live in fear of homes and gardens being flooded out. It's a real worry."

Jim Bagley, South Norfolk Council emergency planning manager, added: "This is great news for local people and gives us an opportunity to tackle the floods misery they have faced in a sustainable and effective way, while helping inspire others across the country to follow our example."