£40m flood defence upgrade will protect 4,500 vulnerable Norfolk properties

Areas at risk of tidal flooding in Great Yarmouth are to be protected by a 40m upgrade to defences i

Areas at risk of tidal flooding in Great Yarmouth are to be protected by a 40m upgrade to defences in a project being lead by the Environment Agency Picture: GYBC - Credit: GYBC

Some 4,500 homes and businesses in Great Yarmouth will be better protected from tidal flooding under a £40.3m upgrade aimed at boosting defences.

Nearly 4km of flood walls will be improved and updated as part of the project, being hailed as an economic boost.

The work will see 46 flood defence walls refurbished, extending their life-span by up to 30 years.

It follows an initial five-year phase of work which saw the use of a specialised dam, known as a limpet dam, to inspect and repair the steel sheet piles that form the flood walls in a dry environment that would otherwise be underwater.

Funding is now in place for the next phase, being led by the Environment Agency and due to start later this year.

A public drop-in event is being held on June 13, at the Kings Centre, in Queen Anne's Road, Great Yarmouth, 2pm to 7pm.

Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said better defences would help the borough to realise its full economic potential.

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Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency said the upgraded defences would provide the best standard of protection to the local community for many decades to come.

And Doug Field, chair of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "Great Yarmouth is a vital part of our all-energy coast.

"It sits at the centre of the world's largest market for offshore wind and is of huge strategic importance to our region.

"By protecting homes and businesses and creating a safe environment for more to be created, these sea defences will allow the town to reach its potential as a key contributor to our economy."

The £40.3m investment, plus £6.2m for ongoing maintenance, includes £32.4m provided by central government and contributions from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, the Growth Deal programme, and the Anglian Eastern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.

Norfolk County Council and Great Yarmouth Borough Council have also contributed and quayside businesses are supporting through contributions and the provision of compound space.

However, £1.6m of contributions are yet to be confirmed.

During the 1953 east coast tidal surge, the tidal river defences in the town were breached resulting in loss of life.

More recently, in December 2013, approximately 9,000 people were urged to evacuate their homes as a result of the highest ever recorded tide in the town.