Fears of repeat of flooding unless tougher action is taken

Heavy rain caused flooding in Long Stratton

Flooding in Long Stratton. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

Calls have been made for tougher action to be taken against landowners who fail to do their bit to prevent flooding - amid fears of a repeat of last winter's severe floods.

Heavy rain and flash flooding last December left many parts of Norfolk underwater, with Long Stratton, which had also been affected by flooding in August 2020, particularly hard hit.

A new taskforce aiming to strengthen Norfolk’s resilience to flooding was set up, chaired by the General The Lord Dannatt, the former head of the British Army.

Norfolk peer Lord Dannatt is a member of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy. P

General The Lord Dannatt. - Credit: Archant

The aim of the Norfolk Flood Alliance is to foster better teamwork between the county and district councils, Anglian Water, the Environment Agency, internal drainage boards and others.

And Norfolk County Council's Conservative-controlled cabinet agreed on Monday how to use its £1.5m Flood Reserve Fund to make urgent repairs and put in place measures as recommended after flood investigation reports.

That will include nearly £700,000 for extra maintenance of highways and ditches and £365,000 to improve drains.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for finance and resources at South Norfolk Council. Picture: Archant

Alison Thomas, Conservative county councillor for Long Stratton. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

But, at the meeting, Alison Thomas, Conservative councillor for Long Stratton, questioned just how tough the alliance was prepared to be on people who did not carry out essential work to prevent flooding.

She questioned when enforcement action would be taken against riparian owners who do not undertake maintenance works. Riparian owners are those who have watercourses within or next to their properties.

Mrs Thomas said: "I regret to say that 13 months on there has been no action. The riparian work has not been done.

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"There's about 20 properties and trying to get them to do work in a co-ordinated fashion is a large ask.

"That work should be done before we hit the winter, or there is a risk an exceptional and unprecedented event happening again."

Andy Grant, the council's cabinet member for environment and waste, said: "The council will try to resolve problems through discussion with the owners in the first instance and enforcement of legislation will only be used as the last resort."

He said he shared Mrs Thomas' frustrations, but that current law did not make it easy to take enforcement action.