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'Impasse' in coastal flood sirens debate

PUBLISHED: 19:29 12 October 2008 | UPDATED: 12:00 03 July 2010

AN “impasse” in the different stances held over the future of coastal flood sirens can only be resolved if all the interested parties sit around the same table and discuss their differences, a Norfolk MP has said.

AN “impasse” in the different stances held over the future of coastal flood sirens can only be resolved if all the interested parties sit around the same table and discuss their differences, a Norfolk MP has said.

With a number of levels of authority holding completely different views on the matter, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has asked all those involved in the long-running dispute to meet him to see if they can come to an agreement.

The police believe the sirens are old and unreliable, while the Environment Agency's automated, phone-based floodline “warnings direct” system provided adequate alerts.

Campaigners, however, back the retention of the sirens and councillors at Norfolk County Council have voted to keep the majority of the sirens - 40 out of 57. Councillors at North Norfolk District Council have also backed retention.

Mr Lamb said: “We have a situation where both the county council and the district council have voted in support of retention of flood sirens to protect coastal communities and yet both the police and the Environment Agency appear to oppose this position.

“It seems therefore that we have an impasse. I am extremely concerned at the current position.”

Mr Lamb has asked to meet Mr Learmonth, the Environment Agency's area flood risk manager Mark Johnson, John Ellis from the county council, sirens campaigner Marie Strong and any of his Norfolk parliamentary colleagues who would like to attend.

Mr Lamb added he had a series of concerns about how people would be warned of an evacuation without the sirens, particularly the police claim that a door-to-door alert process was possible.

“This simply cannot be achieved, given the number of remote coastal villages along the north Norfolk coast,” said Mr Lamb.

“The reality of a raging storm during the winter late at night is that the only mechanisms which work are local arrangements involving flood wardens with the support of a siren to get immediate information across to local residents.”

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