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West Norfolk villagers react to councillor's flooding comments saying it was 'their choice to live there'




Coastal residents have reacted to a West Norfolk councillor dismissing potential flooding issues as “their choice” to live there.

Ian Devereux, cabinet member for environment, was responding to questions regarding flooding in Snettisham amidst the council failing to declare a climate emergency.

Speaking at a full West Norfolk Council meeting last week, he said: “That was their choice. They chose to live there and develop their houses there in full knowledge of what was happening.”

A flood warning area sign at Snettisham Beach Car Park
A flood warning area sign at Snettisham Beach Car Park

Snettisham residents, who all wished to remain anonymous, reacted with mixed emotions to these comments and the state of flood defences in the village.

One woman who has lived in the area for 50 years said: “They go from one end of the shingle bank to the other for a fortnight or so once a year, but it only takes one tidal surge to move the whole lot again.”

On Mr Devereux, she added: “It’s a load of rubbish. He does not know what he is talking about and clearly does not live here.”

The view from Shepherds Port Road in Snettisham
The view from Shepherds Port Road in Snettisham

Another resident, who has lived on Shepherds Port for five years, said: “Yes to an extent it is the residents’ choice to live here but I could not live anywhere else in the area due to the price of property.

“His comments take into account the residents who live here 365 days a year, but not the potential damage to farmland and local businesses which contribute significantly to the local economy.”

The parish council has discussed long-term flood defences including sheet pile walls and groins on the beach.

Snettisham Beach where West Norfolk Councillors have raised flooding concerns
Snettisham Beach where West Norfolk Councillors have raised flooding concerns

However, Mr Devereux told the full council meeting the shingle bank was performing its purpose and the Environment Agency had told him no additional work was needed for defences in the area.

Another resident on Shepherds Port Road said she is happy to contribute £100 a year for the shingle to be moved at the beach to prevent tidal surges.

She added: “I agree it’s the choice of the residents to live here and we do choose to move here because it’s a beautiful area.

“But they also need to recognise it’s a high risk area which should be valued when protecting the tourism and the environment as well.”

She described the tidal surge in 2013 as “frightening” and added it was “quite dramatic seeing parts of the area underwater”.

One resident visiting the beach described Mr Devereux’s comments as showing a “lack of empathy” while another said the same could be said of residents choosing to live in Lynn or Terrington StClement as examples given.


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