10 year milestone in flood defence project

A SPECIAL ceremony was held on a river bank this week, to mark a �150m project which has safeguarded homes and farmland from flooding.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis unveiled a plaque near the River Bure at Acle Bridge on Wednesday to mark the 10-year milestone in a 20-year Broadland flood alleviation project which has so far improved 180km of flood bank, protected 1,600 hectares of farmland and reduced the flood risk to 1,700 homes.

Describing it as a “fantastic scheme”, he said it was one that embodied the deep love felt for the landscape of the Norfolk Broads.

Charles Beardall, area manager for the Environment Agency, highlighted the scheme as a successful model for public private partnerships, the work being carried out by Broadland Environmental Services Limited (Besl), a consortium formed by Bam Nuttall and Halcrow.

He said: “The Broads is a unique and special area worth every bit of energy to protect it.

“The key to protecting Broadland is its defences, 260km of flood banks which safeguard 1,700 properties, 28 sites of special scientific interest and an important tourism economy.”

Dr Beardall said that, as well as reinforcing flood banks, the project had also pioneered “green” defences along some stretches of riverbank through a technique called setback – building a new floodbank further back and removing piling next to the water to allow the restoration of a traditional Broadland reed fringe.

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He stressed the new defences were not designed to prevent overtopping during major storm events, but the important thing was to prevent breaches in the bank that could lead to saline pollution of the surrounding delicate marshland habitat.

He said the defences had already proved their worth during major storms in 2006 and 2007 when flood damage was significantly reduced.

A number of dredging disposal sites – vitally important to the Broads Authority – had been earmarked during the work.

At the ceremony, Besl technical manager Kevin Marsh explained how the setback floodbank had been built on the Acle side of the river about two years ago, using clay dug out just behind the site. The other side of the bank, he pointed to the diggers which were constructing similar new flood defences there.

Most of the work has been done in the first 10 years and the second half of the project will be largely about maintenance.

Following the plaque unveiling in Acle, local children were honoured for the work they had done in compiling wildlife diaries specially for the occasion.