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James Wild MP: Flood exercise became a real deal

The latest column during the pandemic period by North West Norfolk MP James Wild, Friday, October 23, 2020

A 4am start on a Sunday is not my normal routine.

As I wrapped up in warm clothes and filled my Thermos, I was looking forward to joining the Environment Agency for a Winter Readiness Exercise to test the flood defences in Lynn.

James Wild MP was out and about early with the Environmental Agency during the Flood Alert at the South Quay in King's Lynn. Picture: Paul Marsh
James Wild MP was out and about early with the Environmental Agency during the Flood Alert at the South Quay in King's Lynn. Picture: Paul Marsh

However, with a flood warning having been issued this was no longer just an exercise.

After a briefing in the ops room at the Environment Agency HQ on Wisbech Road, I headed to talk to the teams along South Quay, King’s Staithe Square and at the port who were closing flood gates to protect Lynn from high tides and potential flooding.

This was a well-practised exercise which ran smoothly aside from a couple of cars that were preventing the closure of some gates.

If it had proved necessary the police would have been involved in order to remove them.

The tide reached a peak of 4.40m at 8.15am on Sunday morning – the highest level on record was 4.83m in 2017.

These measures and defences I saw on Sunday morning help protect King’s Lynn, as do others along the coast. However, it is essential we continue to tackle climate change and put in place measures to get to Net Zero.

Part of tackling climate change is greater energy efficiency. Gas and electricity bills make up a significant part of people’s weekly spending.

So I welcome the extending of the Energy Price Cap until the end of next year meaning that many households will make savings of up to £100.

While switching suppliers is the best way to save on bills, this measure will help protect people from paying too much.

As well as this move, the Green Homes Grants is open for applications. It funds two thirds of eligible energy efficiency measures up to £5,000. I again encourage companies in West Norfolk to sign up so they can benefit from installation work under this scheme.

Last week when I joined other MPs for a briefing with Norfolk’s Public Health Director on Covid-19 the message was clear – we need to continue to be vigilant to prevent Covid cases increasing across Norfolk.

The increases in rates – particularly in Norwich –underline the need to wash hands, cover face, and make space.

Over 300,000 daily tests were carried out for the first-time last week across England – more tests than conducted by any other European country which is a welcome step on the way to 500,000 daily tests.

New test technologies – lateral flow tests which can be turned around within an hour and LAMP saliva samples – will begin to be rolled out in certain trial areas and in very high alert levels. I continue to work with NHS Test and Trace and Norfolk County Council on improved access to testing in King’s Lynn.

It is in all our hands – literally – whether Norfolk remains at medium alert level. Rolling national lockdowns would be damaging to mental health as well as to jobs and businesses.

Let’s all play our part to keep each other safe.

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