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Yarmouth flood barrier planned

PUBLISHED: 09:05 18 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:40 03 July 2010

Plans for a major flood barrier to defend Great Yarmouth and the Broads from powerful tidal surges are firmly back on the agenda.

The Environment Agency said that a multimillion-pound barrier across Yarmouth's River Yare could be included in a study into coastal and inland defences.

Plans for a major flood barrier to defend Great Yarmouth and the Broads from powerful tidal surges are firmly back on the agenda.

The Environment Agency said that a multimillion-pound barrier across Yarmouth's River Yare could be included in a study into coastal and inland defences.

The announcement came as the Broads Authority prepares to lobby the government quango on Friday to ask it to explore the pros and cons of the barrier scheme to help combat climate change in the next 100 years.

It is feared that rising sea levels and the resulting saline intrusion could change the nature of the Broads forever and see communities like Yarmouth devastated by floods.

Last night the chairman of the Broads (2006) Internal Drainage Board went one step further than the Broads Authority and demanded that work on the barrier starts immediately - 54 years after the Yare scheme was first mooted.

Henry Cator, whose organisation manages flood risk and water levels in the region, said: “I do believe it is important that we maintain a freshwater Broads. I think the work that needs to be done, needs to be done now.

“With rising sea levels and climate change we are going to need some form of a barrier across the Yare.”

On Friday, the Broads Authority is to ask the Environment Agency to investigate the costs and benefits of any barrier at the mouth of the River Yare. A barrier would prove costly and could impact on Yarmouth's harbour operations.

The Broads Authority is mooting the barrier as part of a whole tranche of polices to make sure that in 100 years' time the Broads survive, cope and adapt to dramatic changes in the environment and rising sea levels.

It is predicted that temperatures could increase by 3.6c and that rain could increase by 20pc in the winter and fall by 20pc in summer.

Broads Authority chief executive John Packman said: “They (the Broads) will still be here in another 100 years time but whether they are still an internationally important wetland and a boating paradise will depend on our management and everyone's willingness to reduce their impact on the environment.

“We do need to take a very detailed look at a range of responses which might include options such as a Yare barrier to see how the special qualities of the Broads can be retained. But change will happen and we will have to adapt.”

An Environment Agency official said that plans for a Yare barrier were being mooted in a coastal and inland water study for 20 to 100 years' time. She said: “A Yare barrier might in some form be considered in that sort of time frame.”

Friday's Broads Authority meeting will hear that there may be some benefits to warmer summers leading to a boost in tourism - but that fens, riverways, fish stocks and bridges would be harder to manage due to saline intrusion and higher water levels.

As well as recognising the need to secure future funding to protect the region, the Broads Authority also says it needs to be more creative in the planning process, including new drainage systems, creating new reservoirs and moving footpaths.


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