Dozens drop in to see King’s Lynn flood defence plans

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Work to renovate Lynn’s flood defences will get under way later this month and the Environment Agency has been to the town to give residents more details of their plans.

Dozens attended a drop-in session held at the town hall on Thursday, in which agency staff and West Norfolk Council officers discussed the measures being taken to keep people across West Norfolk safe from future flood risks.

Around £1.2 million is being spent on the work to repair, and in some cases replace, Lynn’s flood gates.

And the agency has also revealed that it plans to localise its system of flood warnings, which it hopes will focus them better on the communities that need to hear them.

Although officials insist that the Lynn works are not connected to the tidal surge which came within inches of overtopping the flood gates last December, they maintain the project will make sure the town is as well defended as it can be to withstand the worst of nature.

The work is scheduled to start at the end of this month and the agency hopes it will be completed by the autumn.

All of the town’s 53 flood gates will be re-surveyed and it is estimated that around 10 per cent of them will need to be replaced. The remainder will be repaired or refurbished.

Although critics of the agency have argued that Lynn was lucky to escape a much more serious flood in December, its project manager, Louise Hall, said the town already has a very high standard of flood defences.

Referring to the surge of December 5, she said: “It was a one in 1,000 year event. The standard of defence is fantastic for the town.

“This work will ensure these defences are in the best possible condition to provide that level of protection.”

Meanwhile the agency has also announced that the system of issuing automated telephone messages to homes and businesses in West Norfolk will change from July.

The area currently covered by the system for alerting people living in coastal areas or areas near the tidal River Great Ouse, which stretches all the way from Hunstanton in the north to villages near Downham at its most southerly point, will be split into three.

The most northerly area will cover properties in Hunstanton, Heacham, Snettisham, Ingoldisthorpe, Dersingham and Wolferton.

The central district will cover Lynn itself, as well as the villages of West Lynn, Clenchwarton, Terrington St Clement, Tilney All Saints and Walpole Cross Keys.

And the third area will cover addresses in Eau Brink, Saddlebow, the Wiggenhalls, Tilney St Lawrence, West Walton, Walpole St Peter, Walpole Highway, Watlington, Nordelph, Barroway Drove and Salters Lode.

The agency says the decision to split the area was made following comments from local people, particularly in the south of the borough.

Flood resilience adviser Tamsyn Ellway said that all three of the areas drawn up under the new system would have received warnings in December.

She said: “We’re trying to make it more community-based, so if people do receive a flood alert, they know to take it seriously because it’s for their area.”