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Yarmouth flood risk boost

18:00 22 October 2009

Flooding in Great Yarmouth near the Haven Bridge.

Flooding in Great Yarmouth near the Haven Bridge.

A new planning blueprint showing a diminished flood risk to low lying areas of Great Yarmouth could help officials better plan for major flooding events, it has been claimed.

A new planning blueprint showing a diminished flood risk to low lying areas of Great Yarmouth could help officials better plan for major flooding events, it has been claimed.

The latest strategic flood risk document and maps shows riverside areas like Cobholm, Southtown and Runham Vauxhall to be in a better position to cope with floods, such as 2007 tidal surge, than had been previously thought.

The 250-page document is said to give a better picture than a previous Environment Agency flood maps which do not take into account defences or the source of any flooding.

It is hoped that the new strategic flood risk assessment data, which was drawn up by consultants Capita Symonds, will help the borough council deal with floods more efficiently and see more riverside development.

Mick Castle, whose council ward includes central and Northgate areas hailed the document as a “page-turning” moment in Yarmouth's history.

Mr Castle said: “We need to reflect the new flood maps in how we deal with flood readiness.

Last time out, two years ago, the police tried to evacuate 10,000 people between Beatty Road and the Pleasure Beach. What I am asking the council to do is review the plans. It is a waste of money and resources to evacuate people who are not at risk and to give them sandbags when they do not need them. We need a realistic assessment of the flood risk.

“Once the planning department starts using this map, people that might have been having difficulty with flood risk might find things easier.

“It is very good news for the Urban Regeneration Company and for people in Yarmouth who were probably very anxious. I would say it is a page-turning moment in terms of what we understand about how flooding affects Yarmouth and allows us to be more vocal about calling for defences.”

Sarah Slade, senior policy planner at Yarmouth Borough Council, said a computer modelling system had been used to predict the impact of flood events and to add an extra layer of detail to the current Environment Agency maps.

It was this more detailed approach differentiating between high and low risk zones and taking account of climate change that had created an apparently improved picture she added.

The information could also be used by insurers to more accurately assess flood risk and premiums, possibly helping some households who struggle to find cover.

Peter Warner, head of planning policy at Yarmouth Borough Council said the flood risk appeared reduced according to the new plan, but that the issue was complicated and still being interpreted. “We are still working out the implications, it is early days yet,” he added.

To view the maps in full visit the borough council's website at www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk

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