Tidal defences in Great Yarmouth are set to receive a £40.3m refurbishment, upgrading the level of protection from tidal flooding to more than 4,500 homes and businesses in the area. Nearly 4km of flood walls will be improved and updated as part of the project, which will better protect the local community from the threat of east coast flooding.
Great Yarmouth has a history of flooding. During the 1953 east coast tidal surge, the tidal river defences in the town were breached in several places resulting in loss of life. More recently, in December 2013, around 9,000 people were urged to evacuate their homes as a result of the highest ever recorded tide in Great Yarmouth.
The work will see 46 flood defence walls refurbished at locations across the town using an innovative technique that will extend their lifespan by up to 30 years. It follows on from the initial five-year phase of work which included 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 of the multi-partner project, which is being led by the Environment Agency and due to start later this year. The £40.3m investment, plus £6.2m for ongoing maintenance, has come from a range of sources including £32.4m provided by central government. Partnership contributions have come from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, £8.2m through the Growth Deal programme, and £2.8m from the Anglian eastern regional flood and coastal committee.
Norfolk County Council and Great Yarmouth Borough Council have also contributed towards the project and local quayside businesses are supporting through contributions and the provision of compound space.
Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: “I’m very pleased to see the funding is now in place for this significant improvement to Great Yarmouth’s flood defences. An extra £5.4m of funding was added to our standard Defra grant in view of additional regeneration objectives to allow this project to proceed with important partnership funding contributions. Over £32m from direct government investment alongside the partnership funding will ensure 4,500 homes and businesses in the area are better protected from any future tidal flooding.”
Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: “We have worked very closely with our partners to enable this important project to go ahead. The upgraded defences will ensure that the flood defences in Great Yarmouth provide the best standard of protection to the local community for many decades to come. We are currently consulting on our flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy and this project is a perfect example of some of the ways in which, by working together, we can make communities more resilient for the future.”
The first five-year phase of works to replace more than 500 metres of tidal defences was completed in early 2017. Preliminary work for this new phase of improvements began in February and the next phase of works is being delivered by the Environment Agency’s contractor JBA-Bentley.