Pay up to keep West Norfolk homes safe, says report

Flood damage at Snettisham Beach. ENGANL00120130612152916
Flood damage at Snettisham Beach. ENGANL00120130612152916
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Communities and businesses are likely to have to find at least three-quarters of the cost of future flood defences along the West Norfolk coast, according to a new report.

The warning is contained in proposals for defending the coast between Hunstanton and Wolferton Creek, which will go before a borough council committee next week.

The Wash East Coastal Management Strategy recommends that the current lines of defences are held in both Hunstanton town and from South Hunstanton to Wolferton Creek.

Lead officer Peter Jermany said 600 permanent properties, mostly in Heacham, 3,000 holiday homes, chalets and caravans, plus the RSPB nature reserve at Snettisham, farm land and part of the A149 between Dersingham and Ingoldisthorpe, would be at greater risk of flooding if the defences to the south of Hunstanton were not maintained.

He warned: “The economic, social and physical impacts of not maintaining these defences are significant.”

The plan also recommends that schemes which could slow the erosion of the Hunstanton cliffs should be tested.

But it also warns that only 25 per cent of the cost of the defences is likely to be available from government sources in some areas, with others unlikely to get any government cash at all.

Earlier this year, landowners and business leaders in the Snettisham and Heacham area opened talks to set up a charitable trust or community interest company to generate funds for future flood defences.

The council agreed to provide £50,000 of interim funding to the group, which is currently being formed, in May, with a further £100,000 being drawn from Norfolk County Council and the Central Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.

But critics say the government should meet the total cost of defences, while others have raised concerns about whether public support for community contributions to the costs of defences can be sustained in the long-term if there are no further floods.

The document will be considered by the West Norfolk Council regeneration, environment and community panel when it meets in Lynn next Wednesday, before going to the council’s ruling cabinet on December 2.

However, the final decision on whether the plan is adopted will be taken by the full council in the new year.