This is how the sea defence is designed to work...

The A149 Coast Road was submerged by the sea in Salthouse. Picture: ALLY McGILVRAY

The A149 Coast Road was submerged by the sea in Salthouse. Picture: ALLY McGILVRAY - Credit: Archant

Environment Agency defends itself from claims it is not doing enough to protect the north Norfolk coast from flooding.

A section of raised bank on the beach near Cley was demolished by the waves. Picture: ALLY McGILVRAY

A section of raised bank on the beach near Cley was demolished by the waves. Picture: ALLY McGILVRAY - Credit: Archant

Sea defences at one of the areas worst affected by last weekend's storm surge worked exactly how they were supposed to, it has been claimed.

The Environment Agency, which builds and maintains flood defences all over the country, issued the statement following concerns from residents in north Norfolk that it is not doing enough to protect them from flooding.

It has rubbished claims that sections of shingle bank have been washed away and not replaced and revealed its staff was waiting for water levels to reduce before carrying out any necessary repairs.

Peter and Susan McKnespiey, owners of Cookie's Crab Shop in Salthouse, suffered thousands of pounds worth of damage to their business during the last serious floods to hit the area - in December 2013.

Swans swim on the normally busy A149 Coast Road in Salthouse on Sunday. Picture: ALLY McGILVRAY

Swans swim on the normally busy A149 Coast Road in Salthouse on Sunday. Picture: ALLY McGILVRAY - Credit: Archant


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During the high tide on Friday night, the water stopped just centimetres from their front door. However, with the shingle banks taking a pummeling, the neighbouring nature reserve at Cley was flooded and the main Coast Road between Kelling and Cley, which was turned into a raging river, was closed for four days.

The couple claim the environment agency, which builds and maintains flood defences all over the country, don't want to construct new sea defences within the Norfolk Coast Area of Natural Beauty - because they would be too 'unsightly'.

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In response, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency in East Anglia said: 'We can confirm that the sea defences at East Bank Cley Wildlife reserve worked as expected during the tidal surge on Friday.

'The design of the defences is designed to respond to different levels of flood water to cause minimal impact. From the roadway it may appear that there are damaged sections. However, this is how the defences along that part of the coast are designed to work.

This is how the beach at Cley looked four days after the tidal surge. Picture: Ally McGilvray

This is how the beach at Cley looked four days after the tidal surge. Picture: Ally McGilvray - Credit: Archant

'The shingle bank protects the coast. Behind this is a complex scheme of pipes and sluices which direct flood water away from the road and onto the bird reserve. Once there, flood water is safely contained. This process was designed with partners and stakeholders to minimise impact to the wildlife and maximise protection to the town of Salthouse. The reserve will drain over a few days.

'Our teams will undertake inspections once waterlevels drop and make remedial repairs as necessary.'

Mr and Mrs McKnespiey claim the land around Salthouse is considered managed retreat - which allows an area that was not previously exposed to flooding by the sea to become flooded by removing coastal protection.

And now they have questioned the future of their village, and neighbouring communities along the vulnerable A149 Coast Road, if it is allowed to disappear into the sea.

The spokesperson for the Environment Agency added: 'We take protection of people and wildlife seriously. This scheme has been worked on and funded as part of our flood defence programme.'

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