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‘Incapable’: warden slams Environment Agency over nature reserve flooding

PUBLISHED: 08:33 01 October 2020 | UPDATED: 08:33 01 October 2020

Warden of Sculthorpe, Nigel Middleton said the Environment Agency were incapable of dealing with the problem.Picture: Ian Burt

Warden of Sculthorpe, Nigel Middleton said the Environment Agency were incapable of dealing with the problem.Picture: Ian Burt

A Norfolk nature reserve warden has labelled the Environment Agency “incapable” after another damaging bout of flooding.

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve near Fakenham had to move their horn ram lambs following torrential rain over the weekend. Picture: Sculthorpe Moor Nature ReserveSculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve near Fakenham had to move their horn ram lambs following torrential rain over the weekend. Picture: Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

Sculthorpe Moor nature reserve had to close this week following the incident, and has partly blamed the agency for work on the River Wensum.

The EA carried out a river restoration scheme to reduce the flood risk to downstream communities.

Sculthorpe Moor warden Nigel Middleton said: “We are genuinely upset with the authorities who seem incapable of dealing with the flooding issues. I have been here at Sculthorpe for 19 years and we never had problems like this.

“We have only suffered badly in the last four years since the Environment Agency carried out work on the River Wensum.

The Hawk and Owl Trust were forced to close the Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve to the public in Janaury 2020 following its worst flooding in 19 years. Picture: A Blumfield - Hawk and Owl TrustThe Hawk and Owl Trust were forced to close the Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve to the public in Janaury 2020 following its worst flooding in 19 years. Picture: A Blumfield - Hawk and Owl Trust

“This is the third time in 2020 that we have been forced to close through flooding and on top of the Covid closures it is causing us immense difficulties.”

Mr Middleton hit out at the agency in January following flooding.

The Environment Agency said the reserve saw a month’s-worth of rainfall in a week, with its gauges showing 90mm of rain fell on Thursday and Friday.

It said its river restoration scheme was not related to the flooding.

The Hawk and Owl Trust were forced to close the Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve to the public in Janaury 2020 following its worst flooding in 19 years. Picture: A Blumfield - Hawk and Owl TrustThe Hawk and Owl Trust were forced to close the Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve to the public in Janaury 2020 following its worst flooding in 19 years. Picture: A Blumfield - Hawk and Owl Trust

A spokesperson said: “The nature reserve is on low-lying land within the natural floodplain of the River Wensum, meaning, unfortunately, it can be affected by flooding following heavy rain.

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“This isn’t related to our river restoration scheme, which continues to reduce the risk of flooding to homes and businesses downstream.”

The flood means the reserve will be closed as they assess their boardwalks around the site. Flooding weakens the supports of the boardwalk, and staff will not let the public use it until repairs are complete and a risk assessment carried out.

Sculthorpe Moor said it lost up to £1,000 per week when it was closed.

The reserve has seen good numbers since reopening, said Mr Middleton.

He said the reserve was concerned about the level of flooding coming this early in the season, and was preparing for the winter weather to hit.


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