Sutton Bridge not included in flood plan

Geese grazing on banks of River Nene at Sutton Bridge ANL-150131-172104001
Geese grazing on banks of River Nene at Sutton Bridge ANL-150131-172104001
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Sutton Bridge will be left waiting for improvements to its flood defences because the village is not included in the Government’s latest plans.

The village was within two inches of disaster when a tidal surge swept up the Nene on December 5, 2013.

Parish council chairman John Grimwood: said: “I stood on the riverbank and it frightened me.

“I have never seen it as high as that. You couldn’t stand on the riverbank without getting your feet wet.”

The parish council immediately asked the Environment Agency to raise the banks, but was told the work was not a priority.

Mr Grimwood would like both riverbanks raised, but says West Bank is more urgent because it is lower than the East Bank and protects the vast majority of homes in the parish.

Environment Secretary Liz Truss was in Lincolnshire last week and made no promises about defences in Sutton Bridge and the immediate surrounding areas.

She said: “I’d need to look at the specific situation and see what the EA have to say but the whole point of our six-year plan for flood and coast defences is that we’re increasing the 
level of flood protections so we’re reducing risk by five per cent.”

John Ray, the EA’s coastal partnerships and strategic overview team leader, said flood defences at Sutton Bridge are “fit for purpose” and despite the closeness of the surge outperformed their design standard in 2013.

He said: “Funding for flood protection must be targeted for areas of high priority and greater need – we monitor the situation and if necessary we’ll seek funding for improvement work in the future.”

The Government is investing £78 million in flood defences further north in Lincolnshire at Boston after the town centre there was flooded in December 2013.

During her visit, the Environment Secretary spoke about Food Enterprize Zones, one of which could be centred on Holbeach.

She said: “I’m very pleased that Lincolnshire has become one of our food enterprise aims, which is all about linking up farming with food manufacturing to capture the whole value of the chain and can produce some fantastic products.”