Report favours cheapest ‘keep homes watertight’ option to prevent further flooding in Bacton and Walcott

Floods. Walcott damage after the sea surges. The remains of Wes Woods and his partner Helen Robinson

Floods. Walcott damage after the sea surges. The remains of Wes Woods and his partner Helen Robinson's home. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A report on flooding in Bacton and Walcott has suggested the cheapest of three options as the preferred way of preventing another disaster like the storm surge of December 2013.

Heavy seas at Walcott. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Heavy seas at Walcott. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The study, for North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), says the favoured option would see people taking responsibility for making sure their homes were watertight, helped by a grant of £3,000 for some.

Ditches would also need clearing, and a farmer's earth bank removing to allow floodwater to escape onto fields.

The suggestion has been met with both anger and resignation in the community.

Angie Fitch-Tillett, NNDC portfolio holder for the coast, has said there will be a public meeting 'imminently' to discuss the report's findings.

The devastating tidal surge saw water cascade over the seawall, flooding about 180 homes and 10 businesses in Walcott and Bacton.

One of the aims of the report, by engineering consultants Mott MacDonald, was to weigh up possible alternatives for mitigating the damage if another such event happened. It dismisses two other options as too costly.

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The first would involve building five rock groynes along the Walcott frontage and piling on more sand to build up the beach level, costing about £4m.

The second would see a 'wave return/floodwall' built behind the current seawall, at a cost of about £2m.

Walcott farmer Thomas Love, who owns the earth bank, said it had been built by his father in 1979 to protect farmland before many of the homes which were flooded in 2013 were built. Mr Love blamed planners who had granted permission for homes on low-lying land at risk of flooding.

He said he had unsuccessfully opposed an application for eight bungalows in The Cedars in the early 1990s on a site where he had stood in 18 inches of water during the 1977 flood. 'Why should I take responsibility for the mistakes of NNDC's planning department?' said Mr Love.

'We are just doing what the government is now encouraging everyone to do – protecting our property.'

Mrs Fitch-Tillet, who joined NNDC in 2003, said she sympathised with Mr Love but the planning decisions were historical and the problems they had created needed tackling.

Pauline Porter, chairman of Walcott Parish Council, said drainage work on the coast road completed last autumn meant water no longer stayed on the road when occasional over-topping happened.

The parish council itself had investigated a scheme for interlocking portable concrete blocks which could be moved into position to channel flood water like a river along the road to a field holding area.

But Mrs Porter said the 'double whammy' of flooding and coastal erosion meant that any solution would only buy a little extra time for residents.

What do you think? Write to EDP Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE

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