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Flood barrier plan for Yare

PUBLISHED: 16:10 15 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:27 03 July 2010

A BARRIER that would protect thousands of homes from rising sea levels is back on the agenda, 13 years after plans were mothballed.

The Environment Agency is being urged to reconsider a barrier across the River Yare in order to protect Great Yarmouth and the Broads from flooding as the threat from climate change intensifies.

A BARRIER that would protect thousands of homes from rising sea levels is back on the agenda, 13 years after plans were mothballed.

The Environment Agency is being urged to reconsider a barrier across the River Yare in order to protect Great Yarmouth and the Broads from flooding as the threat from climate change intensifies.

The Broads (2006) Internal Drainage Board is warning that existing flood walls and banks will not offer enough protection if sea levels rise as predicted.

The board's chairman Henry Cator said the tidal surge in Yarmouth last November had demonstrated the vulnerability of the Broads to flooding by the sea.

“If the high tide and the surge had coincided there is no doubt there would have been extensive flooding in Great Yarmouth and Broadland. What we are suggesting is that in order to keep a sustainable drainage system the only option for the long term to protect that area from inundation by the sea is to have a barrier at Great Yarmouth.”

Opponents have previously said it would hamper the port's trade, but Mr Cator said the outer harbour provided a new opportunity to look again at a barrier.

In a letter he urges the Environment Agency to review its position and to launch an “engineering, economic and environmental feasibility appraisal as soon as possible.”

Mr Cator favoured a barrier as close to the mouth of the Yare as possible.

Plans for a flood barrier to protect Broadland were mooted as long ago as 1955, two years after the East Coast floods killed more than 300 people.

In 1993, the Norfolk and Suffolk Local Flood Defence Committee backed a Yare barrier as the best option, but the National Rivers Authority said the cost- estimated at £25m, plus a further £57m for bank strengthening - could not be justified.

The flood defence committee changed course, and in October 1994 dropped plans for the barrier, pledging to “keep the issue under review”.

Dr Martin George of the Broads Society said: “The storminess of the North Sea is going to become much greater than it is at present, and storm surges create a huge threat primarily to the lives and livelihoods of people in Gorleston and Great Yarmouth.”

Dr George's preferred site for a barrier would be about halfway down in the Lower Ferry area.

Jim Shrimplin, Yarmouth Borough Council's cabinet member for the environment, said: “It would certainly protect low-lying areas such as Cobholm from river flooding.

“If it could do that and prevent over-topping of riverbanks inland and saltwater infiltration into upper rivers and marshland it's got to have some merit. It's not a scheme that could be funded locally. It would need government or European funding.”

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