Government cash sought for West Norfolk flood relief projects

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Lynn and Downham are among the communities that could benefit from a multi-million pound flood relief project if bids for government support are successful, it has emerged.

County council officials have submitted applications for funding towards four separate projects across West Norfolk and they want the area’s MPs to back their campaign.

Three of the projects, which would cost around £1.5 million in total, would see new sustainable drainage systems, such as new ponds and ditches, being created in specific areas of Lynn, Downham and Heacham.

A similar amount could also be spent to raise the A1101 Welney Wash Road so it is no longer submerged by flood waters during extended periods of bad weather.

And the cases for around 40 other defence schemes across the borough are separately being considered by the Environment Agency.

Government support is being sought from the Grant in Aid programme, an initiative that is designed to enable the body receiving the cash to work more independently.

David Harrison, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “Our projects can provide a long term solution to these ongoing problems, and have the potential to make a real difference to both residents and local businesses.

“There is a very tough set of criteria for securing funding, and we hope Henry Bellingham and Elizabeth Truss will feel able to support them and do everything possible to galvanise support for the scheme in the community and within Westminster.”

Both MPs are expected to discuss the issues with community leaders and council and environmental officials at a meeting in Downham today.

But Ms Truss, whose South West Norfolk constituency includes Welney, has already given her backing to the road scheme which she described as “extremely encouraging.”

She said: “I will certainly continue to work with everyone to ensure progress is made and support Norfolk County Council in securing funds for road improvements.

“I do not want local residents and businesses to suffer more costly delays and diversions caused by the regular closure of the causeway.”

The authority has already committed £400,000 of its highways budget towards the project to raise the A1101 and is seeking £1.1 million of government support.

The road was closed to traffic for almost two months this winter because of the long period of poor weather.

And a further £27,000 has been spent on new signs which give drivers latest information on water levels around the area.

Harry Humphrey, divisional councillor for the area, said: “There needs to be a long-term solution that can limit the impact this has on our community.”